A Wonderful and Riveting Austen-Inspired Mystery
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Elizabeth Parker is not enthusiastically looking forward to bringing in the New Year. She was just dumped by her two-timing boyfriend, is on her way to Cape Cod to help her Aunt Winnie host a Murder Mystery Dinner Party, and she has just discovered that she will be spending the weekend with her childhood nemesis, Peter McGowan. Elizabeth, recollecting how Peter McGowan tortured and tormented her when they were children, seriously doubts that he has lost his immature and mischievous ways in the last fifteen years. The only thing Elizabeth has to look forward to this weekend is spending time with her Aunt Winnie at her charming new bed-and-breakfast, The Inn at Longbourn.
Winnifred Reynolds is eccentric, unconventional, and wealthy. She has an affinity for Jane Austen, drives like a maniac, and is a delightfully quirky character. The other guest attending this murder dinner party are just as colorful and uniquely defined. Henry and Joan Anderson are middle-aged antique business owners, who are grateful recipients of patronage from the esteemed Mrs. Kristell Dubois. Gerald Ramsey, a wealthy and unfriendly man, shows up with an unpleasant and acrimonious disposition. Daniel Simms, originally from England, is extremely attractive and aggressively pursues Elizabeth (to her delight), but is rumored to be having and affair with Lauren Ramsey, Gerald’s younger wife. Polly, Gerald’s daughter from a previous marriage, appears to be sullen and reserved, how does she live with such a controlling and disagreeable father? Wealthy and widowed Linnet Westin is new to the neighborhood and has invited her high school friend Jackie Tanner to come live with her as a companion. Jackie Tanner is well-known for her gaudy and over-sized hats and her penchant for sharing the latest gossip.
Soon the acting troupe arrives for the Murder Mystery and everything seems to be underway for a pleasant evening full of suspense and intrigue until the lights go out and the wrong person is found lying dead… Instead of finding one of the actors “dead” after the lights are turned back on, they find one of the dinner guests’ lifeless form on the carpet. When the police determine that the murderer is a guest at the dinner party everyone becomes a suspect. The tension escalates when the police ascertain that Aunt Winnie has the strongest motive for murder and peg her as their prime suspect. Elizabeth, determined to clear her aunt’s name, takes it upon herself to find the true culprit. Alas, Elizabeth is no Nancy Drew and clumsily and comically bungles up the investigation for the police department and she begrudgingly accepts assistance from Peter.
What a charming and remarkable debut novel by Tracy Kiely! While I am not well-versed in mystery novels, having only read the Nancy Drew series and novels by Stephanie Barron and Carrie Bebris, I found this novel to be a praiseworthy addition to the mystery genre. The events of the novel were not cliché or predictable, and the outcome was unforeseen and clever. I adored Elizabeth Parker, and I love how she and Aunt Winnie are such Austen fanatics they interject quotes from Pride and Prejudice into their conversations and witty banters. Furthermore, I enjoyed the character parallels between Elizabeth Bennet/Elizabeth Parker and Mr. Darcy/Peter McGowan. The subtle nuances and nods to Pride and Prejudice were inventive and a pleasure to discover. My only request to Ms. Kiely is to give the brooding and complex Peter McGowan more page time!
Ms. Kiely is a skillful story-teller and this suspenseful tale of murder is sure to captivate and beguile Jane Austen and Agatha Christie fans alike. I eagerly anticipate spending more time with the lovable and quirky characters of Longbourn Inn as they embark upon their next mystery the Murder on the Bride’s Side.
Coming Soon: Interview with Tracy Kiely, Author of Murder at Longbourn!!