Saturday, June 3, 2023

"Death Knells and Wedding Bells"

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than forty-five books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Catskill Summer Resort mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Tea by the Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series for Crooked Lane Books, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates) for Crooked Lane.

Delany is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It Crime Writing Festival. Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. Delany is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Delany applied the Page 69 Test to Eva Gates's latest Lighthouse Library mystery, Death Knells and Wedding Bells, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Bertie told me Lucy had a habit of getting herself involved in police business,” Denise said. “I didn’t realize that meant at your wedding too.”

“It didn’t disrupt my wedding at all, thank heavens. And unlike that last time, I didn’t discover a body in my own house, so there’s that. I’m only sorry the police had to disturb the Sunday of our guests.”

“Added a spark of interest to my day,” Denise said.

“What did you tell them?” I asked.

“I recognized the man from the picture the officer showed me, but I hadn’t spoken to him. He was with your aunt, and I thought there seemed to be some tension between them, but I couldn’t add anything more.” She sucked in a breath. “Your aunt. I hope they’re not thinking—”

“No, they’re not. He was alive and well when Aunt Joyce retired to her room.” No reason Aunt Joyce couldn’t have returned to the ballroom, of course, but I decided not to consider that. Not yet, anyway.

“Glad to hear it,” Denise said.

The next person to come in was our boss, Bertie James. She’s a part owner of and part-time instructor at a yoga studio in town. She leads classes on Monday mornings, so it wasn’t unusual for her to arrive at work after the library had opened. What was unusual was the drawn expression on her face and the darkness behind her eyes. I could immediately tell she hadn’t heard from Eddie. “Good morning, all,” she said.

“Morning,” we chorused. Charles roused himself and jumped onto the circulation desk. Bertie gave him an absent-minded pat, and he rubbed himself against her arm. Charles always seems to know when people need comforting.

“Is everything okay?” Denise asked. “You don’t look too well, Bertie.”
I always love this test. Even when the test ‘fails’, it provides a good guideline to other aspects of the book.

In the case of the 10th Lighthouse Library mystery, Death Knells and Wedding Bells, the test passes with flying colours!

The entire premise of the series is established in the first line of page 69:

“Bertie told me Lucy had a habit of getting herself involved in police business,” Denise said.

The next sentence is specific to this book:

“I didn’t realize that meant at your wedding too.”

In page 69 the people involved are talking about what happened at the wedding. Lucy (the protagonist) explains that the murder happened when the wedding was over, so it didn’t affect her enjoyment of her special day.

Some suspects are named: Aunt Joyce, Eddie.

The murder victim is not named. (In my books the murder usually happens after the ground has been laid, characters introduced, and the scene set, so I prefer reviews and blurbs not to say who is going to be murdered.)

As well as the murder, there’s another mystery in this book. A wedding guest, by the name of Eddie, left the reception saying he was ill, took his date home, went back to the hotel, and has not been seen since. Where is Eddie, and does his disappearance have anything to do with the murder? Eddie’s date was library director, Bertie James, an important character in the series. On page 69 Bertie arrives at work, clearly very worried about Eddie. As the author, obviously I hope the reader will be worried too!

The page works also as an illustration of the friendship and community of the characters, which binds them together in trying to solve both mysteries. Characters both human and feline as Charles the Cat also tries to help.

Page 69 is an excellent introduction to Death Knells and Wedding Bells.
Follow Eva Gates on Twitter and visit Vicki Delany's website.

The Page 69 Test: Death By Beach Read.

--Marshal Zeringue