Friday, March 4, 2011
Murder at Longborn by Tracy Kiely
Planning New Year’s resolutions to rid her life of all things unhealthy, Elizabeth Parker has dumped fatty foods, processed sugar, and her two-timing boyfriend. Indeed, the invitation to join her Aunt Winnie for a How to Host a Murder Party on New Year’s Eve at Winnie’s new Cape Cod B and B comes just in time. But when the local wealthy miser ends up the unscripted victim, Elizabeth must unearth old secrets and new motives in order to clear her beloved aunt of suspicion. The suspects include the town gossip, a haughty rich woman, and an antiques business owner much enamored of his benefactress, a Mrs. Kristell Dubois. If that isn’t bad enough, Elizabeth must also contend with her childhood nemesis, Peter McGowan---a man she suspects has only matured in chronological years---and her suspicions about his family’s interest in Winnie’s inn.
Yesterday, her only worry was of ever finding her Mr. Darcy. Now she has a murder to solve. Is it any wonder her resolution to achieve inner poise is in tatters? (synopsis from macmillan.com)
As a die hard Jane Austen fan, I will read anything that relates to her books. Being a mystery fan as well, this book was made for me! Loosely following Pride and Prejudice, this mystery is set in Cape Cod with Elizabeth Parker having the Elizabeth Bennet part. Elizabeth's aunt Winnie is a feisty senior who owns a B&B in an old house coveted by a local man hated by almost everyone who knows him. One of Winnie's guests is an antique dealer who keeps going on and on about his oh so tasteful patron, Mrs. Dubois. Shades of Mr. Collins! There is also a rich and abrasive widow with the obligatory mousy companion(who is an impoverished friend). We meet the young wife of the hateful man and his downtrodden daughter who are somehow involved with a dashing Brit. Finally, we have our Mr. Darcy in the form of Peter, the childhood tormenter of the young Elizabeth. He is now the hunky heir to a successful hotel business and a friend of Winnie's.
Although the characters sound formulaic, the story is very cleverly done. The murder takes place during a murder mystery performance and the evidence mounts up against Winnie. There are subplots involving the murdered man's previous but now dead wife. Red herrings abound but it all works. The story moves along nicely and there is only a hint of romance.
This is the first book in a series by Ms. Kiely. The second book is called Murder on the Bride's Side,and follows Austen's Sense and Sensibility.
Library note: RPL has Murder at Longborn ( 2009) in the Adult Large Print section. Murder on the Bride's Side (2010) is available in Adult Mysteries. The third book in the series will come out in August of 2011.