Sunday, December 6, 2020

"Poetic Justice"

Andrea J. Johnson is a writer and editor whose expertise lies in traditional mysteries and romance. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and a copyediting certification from UC San Diego. Her craft essays have appeared on several websites such as DIY MFA, Submittable, and Funds for Writers. She also writes entertainment articles for the women’s lifestyle website Popsugar and is the author of the court reporter whodunit series the Victoria Justice Mysteries.

Johnson applied the Page 69 Test to the first book in the series, Poetic Justice, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Someone we love died within the walls of our workplace. I think that’s worth us enduring any inconveniences that might come our way. You don’t see me complaining.”

“Oh, hush up.” Maggie groaned. “I know you’re used to walking on water around here, but you’d be well advised to keep that self-righteous attitude to yourself.”

Her comely features formed the same flirtatious smile she’d given James earlier, but the pleasantness didn’t reach her eyes—those clouded over with something wrathful.

“Ain’t nobody saying they don’t feel bad about what happened,” she cooed. “I was just trying to make a point about how my integrity is being called into question, but here you come, as usual, trying to steal the spotlight by flashing around your relationship with the judge.”

“Really, Maggs? You’re quibbling over friendships?” My voice grew taut to cover my frustration. If anything, I’d always downplayed my relationship with Ms. Freddie to avoid reactions like hers. “Judge Wannamaker loved all of us and treated everyone here as her equal. We should be willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of the consequences, to help the police figure out what happened and why.”

I swiveled my chair away from her in an attempt to end the conversation and resume binding pages, but her words stopped me.

“Easy for you to say, Little Miss First on the Scene.” She didn’t raise her voice, but the timbre carried enough bravado that James gasped.

“What’s that supposed to mean? How did you know I found—” I gaped at Maggie and James, who was sitting in a desk chair between us. Surely, he could see the storm brewing and would jump in to back me up. But no. He poked out his lips like a nervous duck and rolled himself out of the line of fire.

“Darling, I’m just saying maybe you should take a good hard look at yourself because you’re not the innocent lamb you claim to be. I wouldn’t try to play that pity card if I were you.”
Our heroine, Victoria Justice, finds herself in a losing argument with one of the story’s main villains (and eventually key suspects), Margaret Swinson. Maggs, as she best known, is a busty blonde busybody with a big ‘ol bouffant and syrupy Southern drawl. She works in the clerk’s office at the courthouse and breaches the sanctity of Victoria’s office on a daily basis. Maggs visits the court reporter’s sanctum under the pretense of flirting with one of Victoria’s young male coworkers, James Brandenkamp, but it quickly becomes clear Maggs motives are more sinister.

Maggs presents herself as a Southern sweetheart, but Victoria recognizes her as a gossipy maneater spreading lies about the judge who was murdered in the courthouse just one day earlier. Even though Victoria, has not yet made the decision to usurp the police and investigate the crime, this page shows her fierce loyalty to the victim, The Honorable Frederica Scott Wannamaker aka “Ms. Freddie.”

As with any good cozy mystery, our protagonist has a direct connection to all of the major characters in the story, specifically the victim who is Victoria’s mentor and her mother’s best friend. Therefore, this scene helps solidify that connection so that when it comes time for our sleuth to get involved with the murder, her decision to do so makes both logical and emotional sense. That is to say, Victoria becomes involved in solving the crime because she owes it the friend she feels she failed to protect and to help dispel the suspicion mounting around herself. We also get a glimpse at how Victoria’s keen power of observation and utter stubbornness will help her overcome the deadly obstacles that will surely obscure the truth.
Visit Andrea J. Johnson's website.

My Book, The Movie: Poetic Justice.

--Marshal Zeringue