Thursday, November 2, 2023

"The Engagement Party"

Finley Turner is a debut suspense author. She made a career change to become an archivist at a university after leaving academia, where she studied cults and new religious movements.

When not producing and consuming all things morbid and dark, Turner can typically be found playing video games with her husband, and occasionally pausing to interrogate her rescue animals about what they're chewing on.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Engagement Party, and reported the following:
From page 69:
It was surely outrageously expensive, like it had been designed to be worn to the Met Gala. It was beautiful--it just didn't look like me.

"You'll look great in that. You'd look good in anything," said Murray.

She handed the dress to me, and I picked up the long hem so it didn't drag on the floor. I rooted around in the fabric for a tag, searching for a size. Beatrice and I had extraordinarily different body types; despite both being thin and somewhat tall, everything else was different. My hips were narrow and my chest was flat, while she had a proper hourglass figure with a waist as cinced as her manners. There was no way one of her dresses would fit me. It would look terrible without the proper tailoring.

"It's a four. If you're wondering," she said.

"Oh, that's perfect. That's my size," I trailed off while I thumbed the embroidery. Why would she have a brand new dress in this size? I glanced at her, thinking she would be more of an eight.

"Now for jewelry..." She unlocked the glass case and studied her collection before tutting and opening a drawer below it.

A small silver revolver lay on a padded velvet pillow. It had Victorian-looking engravings along the sides, and the handle was a sleek mother-of-pearl that sparkled just like her jewelry. next to it were necklaces that I assumed were less expensive than the ones in the locked glass case. She plucked one from the drawer and held it up to the dress. It was a simple design of silver and clear stones---I tried not to imagine what the stones were and how much they cost.

"Stunning, isn't it?"

"It really is, thank you so much," I said.

"Let's get this down to Gloria to steam."
Bluntly, I don’t think The Engagement Party passes the Page 69 Test, especially for thriller readers that want their heart racing from page one.

While this page wouldn’t satisfy the reader’s need for adrenaline, I do like this scene because of the character interactions and build up of control that the Sedgemont family is attempting to gain over the main character, Kass. The page is telling us more about the disparity of wealth between the main character and her future family-in-law, especially her mother-in-law, Beatrice Sedgemont.

When Beatrice meets Kass, she’s immediately disappointed that she’s not at the same socioeconomic level as the uber-wealthy Sedgemonts. Beatrice is in charge of throwing the perfect and elaborate surprise engagement party, but it becomes clear it’s not to celebrate the couple, but rather to flex her money and power to her elite guests.

Throughout the book, Kass not only has to determine how much she can push back against Beatrice’s control and be herself, but she also has to fight the accusations that immediately begin flying when a dead body is found at the party. After all, who is more suspicious than the new interloper that isn’t following the unspoken rules of the upper class?
Visit Finley Turner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue