10 October 2011

Just finished reading...

Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely.*

Martin Reynolds sold his vacation home in Maryland shortly before he died, with the proceeds to be divided between his three children. When the new owners begin renovations, they find a body buried underneath the pool, which turns out have been the former fiancé of Martin's daughter Reggie. Michael Barrow had disappeared the day after Reggie broke off their engagement, along with a million dollars from the Reynold's family business, where he worked. It was assumed that he'd absconded with the money upon realizing that he'd no longer have a job.

The book is written from the point of view of Elizabeth Parker, Martin's niece. Elizabeth is very, very fond of Jane Austen. She and her Aunt Winnie (Martin's sister) are given to inserting quotes from the Austen oeuvre into their daily conversation. Elizabeth also has a reputation in the family as a detective, having "assisted" the police on two earlier murder investigations involving the family.

The detective assigned to the case is Joe Muldoon, who happened to be involved with Martin's other daughter Ann, years earlier. Their relationship was quashed by Ann's aunt Laura, who thought that Joe wasn't good enough for her niece.

This nod to Austen's Persuasion, which one might expect to be awkward or heavy-handed, is actually quite seamless and slips into the plot quite comfortably. Also, the idea of a young woman being discouraged from marrying a man she loves because of his "prospects" is not at all far-fetched in conjunction with a high-society family from the East Coast.

Like Austen, Kiely is snarkily funny. Her Elizabeth is underemployed and has little on which to use her intellect and wit, and so interferes in police investigations and mocks whenever she can. This reviewer will definitely be searching for the previous titles in this series!

*Many thanks to Library Thing's Early Reviewers program for the Advance Reading Copy.


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