Murder at Longbourn (Elizabeth Parker Series #1)

Murder at Longbourn (Elizabeth Parker Series #1)

by Tracy Kiely

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Overview

A die-hard fan of Jane Austen novels and the traditional English mystery, Tracy Kiely has combined elements of both for this truly delightful and witty debut.
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?

By reimagining characters and themes lifted from the treasured classic Pride and Prejudice, and crafting an expert, intricate mystery, Tracy Kiely has brought to life something very special: a new cozy series that is clever, vibrant, and utterly disarming.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429954761
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Series: Elizabeth Parker Series , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 258,756
File size: 402 KB

About the Author

Tracy Kiely graduated from Trinity College with a B.A. in English. She lives with her husband and three children in Severna Park, Maryland. Murder at Longbourn is her first novel.
Tracy Kiely has been a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is the author of books including Murder at Longbourn and Murder on the Bride's Side. A self-proclaimed Anglophile who grew up reading Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, she lives with her husband and three children in Maryland.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

When fate's got it in for you there's no limit to what you may have to put up with. — GEORGETTE HEYER

IT WOULD BE dramatic to say that as soon as I saw Aunt Winnie's letter I had a premonition of danger — a shiver of apprehension, perhaps, or even a sudden feeling of dread. In reality, the only thing I felt was mild amusement, not so much at the message but at the mode of its delivery. I'm not so romantic as to expect correspondence from elderly spinsters to be limited to lavender-scented paper, but by this same token, I certainly didn't expect a hastily scrawled note on a yellow Post-it, cheerfully inviting me to a murder.

Of course, it wasn't an actual murder, only one of those How-to-Host-a-Murder parties. Aunt Winnie's eccentricities, while trying at times, rarely lent themselves to actual felonies. From the scrawl on the Post-it, which resembled something an acrobatic spider might create if left alone with an ink pot, I deduced that the "murder" was to take place on New Year's Eve at Aunt Winnie's new Cape Cod bed-and-breakfast.

I set the Post-it on the hall table with the rest of the mail, while I shrugged out of my damp overcoat. The weather outside was beastly, much like my mood. It was December 29, so you'd think that any precipitation would mean light, fluffy snow. But this was northern Virginia, which meant it was cold, hard rain. Rubbing my arms for warmth, I kicked off my wet boots and headed for the kitchen. Yanking open the cupboard, I reached for the bag of Oreos, belatedly remembered that I was on a diet, and flung the package back untouched.

Some 56.3 hours before — but who was counting? — I had gotten a jump start on my New Year's resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle by giving up fatty foods and a two-timing lobbyist. Unfortunately, the only thing my health kick had earned me was a grumbling stomach, the prospect of a lonely weekend yawning out in front of me, and a crabby mood. As a result, I'd spent the better part of the week slumped in front of the television, watching various adaptations of Dickens's A Christmas Carol and heckling the poor Cratchit family, whose single-minded cheerfulness struck me as more than a little inane.

From upstairs, Bridget, my best friend and roommate, yelled down, "Elizabeth? Thank God you're home. I need you."

I trudged up the stairs to her room, pausing in the doorway. On her bed lay a suitcase haphazardly crammed with a mishmash of clothes; Bridget's taste was eclectic or god-awful, depending on how you characterized bright green cowboy boots and purple sequined tops. Bridget stood with her back to me, sucking in her already flat stomach and frowning at her reflection in the floor-length mirror. She was wearing a turquoise leather miniskirt, a silky orange blouse, and purple suede boots. Bridget is only five three, even in the spiked heels she considers mandatory. She believes that bold outfits offset her diminutive stature.

She can say that's why she dresses the way she does all she wants, but I've known Bridget since we were little. I saw how she dressed her Barbie dolls. I mention this because Barbie's vital statistics are such that, were she a real woman, she'd be something like seven feet tall. Therefore, not in any sense diminutive. Yet her dolls were always clad like some bizarre cross between Joan Collins and Liberace.

Still eyeing herself critically, Bridget asked, "Tell me the truth. Does this outfit make me look fat?"

I rolled my eyes. "Fat? No. Color-blind, maybe. But not fat."

At my response she swung around, almost losing her balance in the process. Four-inch heels can do that to a girl. Peering at me from underneath her spiky red bangs, she stared at me aghast. "Color-blind? Are you serious? These colors are hot this season."

"That may be so, but I find it hard to believe that you're supposed to wear them at the same time."

"That's because you have no fashion sense." She glanced disparagingly at my tan corduroy skirt and blue cable-knit sweater. "You really should let me give you a makeover."

"I thank you for the favor, but no. The last time you gave me a makeover, some guy kept trying to shove dollar bills down my skirt."

"That's not true!" Bridget said, laughing.

"Okay, maybe so," I admitted with a grin, "but you're still not giving me a makeover."

"Why not? Come to New York with me and Colin. We can update your look and start the New Year off right."

Colin is Bridget's boyfriend. For New Year's, the two of them are going to New York for the weekend. Bridget has been trying to convince me to go with them, especially now that I am, as she delicately put it, "without plans."

"Come on, it'll be fun!" she continued excitedly. "You know nobody does New Year's better than Times Square! We could go shopping! We could try new restaurants! And more important, we can celebrate your freedom from a man who is, let's face it, the soul-sucking spawn of Satan. And don't even get me started about his obsession with argyle."

I pushed aside the suitcase and flopped across her bed. The soul-sucking, argyle-wearing spawn of Satan is my ex-boyfriend Mark. To say that Bridget had never liked him was a gross understatement — over the past few months she'd developed a small facial tic at the sound of his name.

"Bridget, you know I love you and Colin, and you're sweet to invite me, but for the thousandth time, no. I'd be a third wheel — and on New Year's Eve of all nights!"

"You wouldn't be a third wheel," she countered. "You'd be with friends."

"Friends who are a couple. Which would make me the third wheel. No offense, but I'd rather stick glass in my eyes."

"Offense? Don't be silly. Who could take offense at that? You simply prefer self-mutilation to a weekend with friends."

"Only figuratively. The truth is, it's been a long week and all I want to do is relax and catch up on some reading." While that was true, I was also refusing for more altruistic reasons. I knew something she didn't: Colin was planning to propose at the stroke of midnight on New Year's.

"Reading?"

"Yes, reading," I replied with a lofty wave of my hand. "I have decided to devote myself to the improvement of my mind by extensive reading."

Bridget narrowed her eyes. "That's from Pride and Prejudice, isn't it? Damn it, Elizabeth, whenever you start quoting from P&P I know you're in a mood. I swear, that book is your security blanket when you're upset."

Luckily the chime of the doorbell saved me from a response. "Oh, God!" cried Bridget. "It's Colin. Can you let him in? Tell him I'll just be a minute."

I rolled off the bed and went downstairs to let Colin in. Colin is six two, with curly brown hair and large brown eyes. To me, he's always resembled an enormous teddy bear come to life. That pretty much sums up his personality, too. He's like the big brother every girl wishes she had. He was still stamping his wet feet on the doormat when Bridget poked her head out of her room and hollered down, "Colin, I'll be ready in two seconds. Try to convince Elizabeth to come with us. She needs cheering up."

Colin glanced quizzically at me. "Is that true?"

"No. She will most certainly not be ready in two seconds."

"I meant about your needing cheering up."

"I'm fine. She's referring to Mark."

"Oh, that's right," said Colin, rearranging his face into a somber expression. "I was sorry to hear you two broke up."

"Liar."

He grinned and dipped his head in acknowledgment. "Okay, you're right. The news made my day. The guy was a jackass." Pulling me into a quick hug, he added, "You deserve nothing but the best, Elizabeth. Don't forget that."

See why I love Colin?

Eventually Bridget emerged from her room, dragging a bulging suitcase. Ignoring her pleas that I join them, I resolutely settled down on our couch with a copy of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, finally convincing her that all I wanted to do was stay home and read. With Colin looking grateful and Bridget looking concerned, they left me to tackle the novel.

However, with their exit, the apartment seemed unnaturally quiet, and I had trouble concentrating on the text. Our landlord didn't allow animals, so I didn't even have the warmth of a furry friend to comfort me. Our only pets, if you could even call them that, were two goldfish purchased during a rare fit of domesticity. Unfortunately, our local pet store didn't stock a particularly hardy variety, resulting in bimonthly replacement visits. As a result, I'd named each new pair Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. It didn't change their fate, but it added a little drama when I had to announce it.

Forty-five minutes later, after having read the first twelve pages of Benjy's narrative a total of eight times, I flung the book down, now feeling hungry, lonely, and stupid. Deciding that I could alleviate at least one of those problems, I grabbed the bag of Oreos just as the phone rang. Seeing the caller ID, my mood went from bad to worse.

It was my sister Kit. I knew what was coming. One of her goals in life is to see me married — and while I'm in no way opposed to the idea, it's not my driving force in life. As I expected, no sooner did she hear my voice than she launched into rapid-fire speech. She had heard the news of my breakup from our mother and was clearly dumbfounded. How could I let a "catch" like Mark "slip away"? Didn't I understand that with each passing year my chances of getting married diminished? (I'm all of twenty-six.) Didn't I know that I had to "reel them in" while I was still young? (The way Kit tossed around the fishing jargon you'd think she was a seasoned angler. But the closest she ever got to fish was in her grocer's freezer section.)

I didn't want to tell her the real reason for the breakup — that Mark had been seeing at least two other women behind my back. So I did what any reasonable person in my position would do. I lied.

Unfortunately, it's not a skill that I'm adept at and the reason I gave her — that he smoked — sounded silly even to me. I know Kit found it funny, because she laughed for a good thirty seconds. Loudly. Then she launched into a lecture, the point of which was that unless I stopped being so picky, I was going to end up alone.

She said this last bit in the whispery kind of voice some people reserve for revealing a stint in prison or a terminal illness. As she continued to scoff at my "pickiness," something inside me snapped. Candidly I volunteered, "He cheated on me, Kit, okay?"

Silence answered.

"Kit, are you there?"

Finally, all in one breath I got, "Oh, you poor, poor thing. What a terrible thing to have to go through. No wonder you didn't want to tell me! How awful! Not that I have any personal experience, of course. Well, don't worry about it, I won't mention it again. Except to say that I always thought there was something untrustworthy about him. His eyes are too close together for one. And he really could be a pompous jackass at times. But there's no point in going into all of that now. Are you alone? You shouldn't be alone. Where's Bridget? Oh, that's right, Colin's proposing this weekend, isn't he? Well, don't let that get you down. I know what you're probably thinking. You're thinking that you're going to end up some lonely old woman who lives with cats, but that's not true!"

"Actually, Kit, I wasn't thinking that ..."

"Good, that's the spirit! Okay, here's what we'll do. I'll come down. No, that won't work. Tom and I are having a huge party this weekend for some clients. It's been unbelievably stressful. You'll just have to come here."

My brother-in-law sells hot tubs. It wasn't hard to imagine where the night would end with a party composed of fellow enthusiasts in a house with the deluxe model.

She continued on. "You come here and we'll forget all about Mark. We won't even mention him. Do you know who he was seeing? Is she pretty? You poor, poor thing."

The thing about my sister is that she does mean well. However, her idea of well and my idea of well are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I knew she wouldn't stop about the party until I either agreed to come or produced a reasonable excuse. Panic set in as my brain frantically struggled to generate the latter. Happily, my eyes landed on Aunt Winnie's Post-it. With a heroic effort to keep any trace of relief out of my voice, I told her that, sadly, I couldn't possibly go to her party as I was already going to Aunt Winnie's.

There was a brief pause as Kit absorbed this information. "Aunt Winnie's having a party?" she asked, a note of hurt in her voice.

"Um, well, it's more of a work weekend, really," I fibbed. "I think she just needs my help getting the inn ready."

"Oh, I see — that makes sense. Well, as long as she doesn't let you cook, everything should be fine," she said, breaking out into the overly hearty laugh she employed whenever she insulted me. It was meant to imply "we're all just one big, happy, teasing family and if you don't get that, then you're way too sensitive." All it did was set my teeth on edge.

Thanking her for the invitation and promising that I would call if I needed to talk, I hung up on another, "Oh, you poor, poor thing."

I looked at the Oreos. After my third one, I realized I needed something stronger. I needed a large glass of chardonnay and a larger dose of Cary Grant. Pulling my woolly cardigan around me, I went to ransack Bridget's DVD collection. Passing the hall table, I reread Aunt Winnie's invitation. I realized that I really did want to go, and not just so that I wouldn't end up in a hot tub with my brother-in-law's single clients. No, I thought with a smile, a visit with Aunt Winnie was just what I needed. Right after North by Northwest.

My goal to get an early start was thwarted. I am not an early riser and Kit called me six more times to try to convince me to come to her party instead. Just as I was leaving, call number seven came in. I let the answering machine deal with it. Pushing my black suitcase out the door, I heard her say that if I was worried about not having a nice dress, she had an old one I could borrow. I slammed the door with more force than was strictly necessary and headed for my car.

By late afternoon, I was on the Cape. Directions in hand, I drove along the narrow, winding roads past scruffy pine trees and low walls of smooth gray stone, occasionally catching sight of the icy blue waters of Nantucket Sound. Above me, gnarled tree branches intermingled with power lines, both having been there so long it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended. My spirits rose at the sights, and some of my melancholy over Mark's betrayal faded. After all, what are men to trees and rocks? Finally, I pulled into a curved tree-lined drive. At the end was a rambling two-story house. Hanging over the door was a freshly painted white sign. In large green letters it proclaimed: THE INN AT LONGBOURN. I smiled. Aunt Winnie was a dedicated, some might say an obsessed, fan of Pride and Prejudice.

As picturesque as it was, I had to admit that I had thought Aunt Winnie was crazy when she bought it several months earlier. She had seen the property while on a tour of Cape Cod and had impulsively decided to buy it, renovate it, and turn it into a B and B — regardless of the fact that she had absolutely no experience in anything of the sort. But Aunt Winnie seldom let logic interfere with her plans.

My aunt came bustling out the door just as I switched off the car's engine. If your idea of a woman of seventy-odd years is of the genteel, blue-haired variety, then Aunt Winnie might be something of a shock. Her short, round figure was covered by a long coat that appeared to have been purloined from some off-off-Broadway production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. But bright as her coat was, it was nothing compared to her short, curly hair, currently colored an outrageous shade of red.

Aunt Winnie had never married, but that's not to say that she hadn't had offers. She used to joke that she thought marriage was a great institution, but that she didn't want to be in an institution. I think her reluctance had more to do with her childhood than anything else. Her mother had died when she was young, and her father was a demanding hypochondriac who was convinced that his death was right around the corner. He withdrew to his room, where he fussed and moaned in glorious seclusion.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Murder at Longbourn"
by .
Copyright © 2009 Tracy Kiely.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Booklist - Kristine Huntley

When Elizabeth Parker finds herself single and alone for the holidays, she jumps at an invite from her aunt Winnie to attend a How to Host a Murder Party at Winnie's new Jane Austen-inspired bed-and-breakfast on Cape Cod. Though many of the crowd at Winnie's are older, there are two handsome young men who provide a distraction: British playboy Daniel turns Elizabeth's head with his suave charm, but she's irritated by the presence of her childhood nemesis, Peter. The participants gather, but when the lights go out for the fake murder, a real one occurs: Gerald Ramsey, a surly local businessman, is shot dead. Ramsey was aggressively pushing Winnie to sell her B and B to him—and putting pressure on her by going to the local zoning board—which makes Winnie the prime suspect in his murder. Certain that her aunt isn't the killer, Elizabeth sets out to clear her. With echoes of Jane Austen's characters sure to delight readers, Kiely's first novel offers up a satisfying mystery and a charming

From the Publisher

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that the long-dead Jane Austen remains a driving force in the lives of many authors. Such is the case—to the benefit of those who delight in the cozy mystery—with Tracy Kiely's debut novel, Murder at Longbourn....Kiely pays homage to the traditional mystery in this Christie-worthy puzzle, in which you're sure to fall in love not only with the old Cape Cod setting but also with the author's witty take on the old-fashioned whodunit."—Richmond Times-Dispatch

"The author avoids the many temptations this type of book offers....What she offers instead is a group of refreshingly civilized characters who work sensibly together and whom we come to care about as the story develops along the exact lines we hope it will. It's a great introduction to what is promised to be a new series."—The Denver Post

"With echoes of Jane Austen’s characters sure to delight readers, Kiely’s first novel offers up a satisfying mystery and a charming heroine."—Booklist

“The biggest accomplishment of Kiely's debut novel is that it leaves the reader wanting more. Amateur sleuth Elizabeth Parker and her odd assortment of friends and family are ripe for a series. Although the author delves quite deeply into her characters' lives, there's still much to learn. Jane Austen fans will thoroughly enjoy this cerebral mystery.”—RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

“Tracy Kiely weaves her old-fashioned murder mystery with a modern sensibility and the sort of humorous observations about the human character that I love….those who love good writing, well-drawn characters, a solid mystery plot that is hard to solve, and Austenesque overtones, will enjoy this book as much as I did.”—Jane Austen’s World

"Thoroughly amusing and satisfying...the perfect opener to a new mystery series."—Jane Austen Regency World

 

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Murder at Longbourn 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
carolinamomma More than 1 year ago
Fun, light, entertaining mystery that keeps you guessing. Love the classic whodunit format of murder at the party without it being predictable. The main character, Elizabeth Parker, has a funny internal dialogue reminescent of Kathy Reichs' Temperence Brennan (books, not tv). Very enjoyable and I look forward to reading more by Ms. Kiely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a light, fun mystery. The characters are interesting and it certainly keeps you guessing!
Patti-SevernaPark-MD More than 1 year ago
A wonderful fresh book reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery and modern day Jane Austen characters. A fabulous book for rainy days and book clubs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book. I will read more of her books!
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After the break-up of her relationship, Elizabeth Parker accepts an invitation from her aunt to spend New Year's at her new Bed & Breakfast, named ¿Longbourn¿ after the Bennet's residence in Pride and Prejudice. Aunt Winnie has planned a murder dinner mystery for New Year's Eve for both B&B guests and local residents. After a real murder disrupts the party, Elizabeth is determined to do whatever it takes to clear her aunt of suspicion of murder and restore her reputation, to the dismay of the investigator in charge. She reluctantly accepts the help of her childhood antagonist, Peter McGowan.It was no surprise that the book is inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, but I wasn't expecting the allusions to Agatha Christie. Kiely does a nice job of sprinkling red herrings throughout the book. She offers plenty of credible suspects and motives. However, readers familiar with Agatha Christie's work will have an advantage in solving the mystery. This cozy mystery will have cross-over appeal for chick-lit readers and Jane Austen fans. Although I generally avoid chick-lit, I enjoyed this book, and I plan to continue with this series.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Murder at Longbourn. I love it. And by it, I mean that I could totally rip off books and be called an "author" and make money, too. Yes, Jane Austen is dead so people feel free to plagiarize P&P. But Helen Fielding of Bridget Jones's Diary is not dead. But that did not stop this author. Throw in a bad episode of Murder, She Wrote and you have this book.Elizabeth (of course), has been invited to assist her aunt with a New Year's Eve murder mystery party at her newly bought inn, Longbourn. Okay fine. Elizabeth's best friend is Bridget and Bridget's fiance is Colin. Lizzie's sister is Kitty. Okay, fine still. Stupid, but fine. But Elizabeth makes a list for New Year's and one goal is to "find inner poise". Sound familiar? That was on the blurb of BJD; at least search for small parts to steal Tracy! Then Peter, the Darcy of the book, uncomfortably asks Elizabeth if "she has read any good books lately". If you have read BJD then you know this is a total rip-off!!!There may have been more, as a matter of fact, I would bet on it. But after throwing the book, I decided to abandon it.I am used to people (authors?) stealing P&P. I love a good updated story like BJD. But to also steal from another adaptation is just really bad taste. And to publish said crap, worse taste.If I had not read BJD and remained oblivious to this, I might have found the book fun, a cozy read. But I did read BJD and it just pisses me off.rating- not worth time or moneyI hereby pledge that there will be no more reading of Austen spin-offs (not counting rereads of one's I already like) for me, except one more that I have already committed to review. (so far, it too, sucks!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I say entertaining, I mean exactly that. It keeps you reading because you want to know who killed this spoiled brat of old man. Everyone had reason to kill him. And when you get to the end you will keep reading even if you are tired.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rea?y fun read. love her wit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A combination of my two favourites --a good murder mystery and Jane Austen.
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threecentsshort More than 1 year ago
Tracy Kiely has created a wonderful new character in the persona of Elizabeth Parker. She is young, clever & the is as zany as Stephanie Plum without being to over the top. I enjoyed the quotes that were given at the beginning of each chapter. And some of Elizabeth's lines were laugh out loud funny. I can't wait to see what mischievous she & her cohorts are up to in the next book in the series Murder On The Bride's Side. Hopefully this series will continue. Tracy Kiely has a real winner with Elizabeth Parker.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BuddiesMom More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book very much. I am a Jane Austen fan, and the writer has really captured Jane. enjoyed the references to Janes novels. I found this book to be a quick easy read. did not want to put it down. Read it in several sittings. I was excessively diverted by the story. Can't wait for the second novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You needn't be an Austen fan to be a Kiely fan; although in her debut book, more than a casual familiarity with Austen will help you recognize some esoteric references between the independent and witty Elizabeth Parker and her beloved eccentric speed-demon Aunt Winnie. Murder at Longbourn's concept itself is quite original -- Pride and Prejudice meets murder, but there are some blatantly borrowed allusions to other more recent (20th century) works -- "Bridget Jones's Diary", "St. Elmo's Fire" and the 1976 film by Robert Moore, "Murder by Death" that can threaten the book's own originality. No doubt Kiely was influenced by these popular culture movies and books. I couldn't help but see Hugh Grant as Daniel Simms and Colin Firth as Peter McGowan. Thankfully, I did not picture Renee Zellweger as the wonderful and bright and clever heroine fact-checker turned fact-finder Elizabeth, nor did I envision Truman Capote at the end. Kiely's writing is very good - lyrical, swift and engaging. The clever banter between characters reminded me of some of the excellent script writing from NBC's "The West Wing." But technically, Murder at Longbourn's beginning is a little stiff -- after the first 30 or so pages it moves quickly and lightly enough -- and the early references to pivotal characters left me flipping back in my pages because I needed to keep track - I wanted more about them, something that would make them stick. The editing could be more thorough, as a particularly unpleasant character was described using the same word at least 3 times (if not 5) within the first third of the book, and a reference to long shadows during a time of day was meteorologically impossible. But if these are details that you don't pay attention to, you mightn't find it a distraction and you'll just hum right along, twirling a lock of hair between your fingers as you speculate about who did what to whom... Once things do start humming along (and it seems the editing cures itself about 100 pages into the book - did the editor finally drink that coffee?), it's the kind of book you probably won't want to put down, but if you did for a day or two, you will have no problem picking up where you left off and you'll be glad you did. Given that some babies these days are practically handed vampire books, parents need not worry about their 'tween daughters getting any promiscuity ideas from this delightful novel - it's perfectly suitable for a teenager to read (it's clean, save for a little blood from a murder) and fun. If anything, 'tweens will learn to think for themselves, pace their romantic intentions and ask plenty of questions! It will be fun to see where Kiely takes us next...
SheilaCE More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Parker, Jane Austen aficionado, is making a New Year's resolution. She is determined to remove all "unhealthy" factors from her life: foods and sugars without nutritional value are a good start. And what about her worthless lover? It seems that Elizabeth needs to tear away from the predicament of life, so in an effort to effectively carry out this resolution, Elizabeth has decided to spend the New Year holiday at her Aunt Winnie's Cape Cod bed and breakfast. The situation proves an excellent means of escape for Elizabeth until a How to Host a Murder Dinner Party goes terribly awry and leaves the local affluent miser dead. Now it becomes Elizabeth's mission to clear her aunt's name of any suspicion and solve this bizarre murder case before it is too late. Will Elizabeth find a way of unraveling the mystery of this Murder at Longbourn? Murder at Longbourn is Tracy Kiely's first novel, a highly praised and clever cozy that will fascinate readers of murder mystery and draw in Austen fanatics with its subtle allusions to Pride and Prejudice, one of Austen's finest and most popular works. According to Romantic Times, "the biggest accomplishment of Kiely's debut novel is that it leaves the readers wanting more [...] Jane Austen fans will thoroughly enjoy this cerebral mystery." If you have a love of Austen's classic novels, then you will not be able to find a better contemporary piece of fiction this year, but even if your familiarity with the work of Austen is limited, you will still find a way of appreciating the mastery of Kiely's storytelling. Her intricate crafting of this novel, her first published work, is evidence of her natural talent as an author. "Tracy Kiely adds an engaging new voice to the mystery scene," writes Denise Swanson, a national bestselling murder mystery author. For the mystery fanatic in all of us, Tracy Kiely gives to us Murder at Longbourn, a witty tale of intrigue and intensity that will undoubtedly be well-received.
Laurel_Ann More than 1 year ago
Singleton Elizabeth Parker has just dumped her two-timing boyfriend and accepted an invitation from her eccentric Aunt Winnie to help host a theatrical "Murder Mystery Party" on New Year's Eve at her new Cape Cod B&B, amusingly named The Inn at Longbourn in honor of Elizabeth and her aunt's affinity to all things Austen. When Elizabeth arrives and discovers that her aunt has employed her childhood nemesis Peter McGowan to help run the Inn, she is less than pleased at the prospect of meeting him again. Their awkward reunion reminds Elizabeth's of painful memories as an over-weight, buck toothed ten-year old tormented and locked in a basement with the spiders. Bruised ego throbbing, Elizabeth endeavors to subdue her anger and Bridget Jonesish self-depreciating insecurities by chanting aphorisms: "I will have inner poise. I will not let Peter McGowan get under my skin. I will not allow myself to be locked in a dark basement. I will have a calm and relaxing New Year's." Peter on the other hand, is just too broodingly arrogant to believe in inner reproach. The New Year's festivities are going well until the "Murder Mystery" party turns deadly, when one of the guests becomes a body in the library so to speak. The local police suspect everyone in attendance, and especially Elizabeth's aunt Winnie who has means, motive, and opportunity to do the deed. To clear her aunt as a prime suspect Elizabeth must become an amateur sleuth discovering clues and following leads to uncover the back story of the relationships of the guests. Odious Peter, the last man in the world whom she could ever be prevailed upon to ask for help turns out to be not such a shmuck after all, once Elizabeth moves beyond her prejudices and Peter his pride! Hmm? Sound familiar? In the tradition of the popular Stephanie Barron Jane Austen mystery series, Murder at Longbourn is a cleverly crafted mystery infused with endearing characterizations and a satisfying romance. Janeites will be thrilled with all of the Pride and Prejudice lore as they encounter references to shelves in the closet, a snooty cat named Lady Catherine, and a hero and heroine that mirror Austen's protagonists Lizzy and Darcy. Mystery novel lovers will be enthralled with the large cast of possible suspects, a minefield of clues, and the great red herrings thrown in to keep them guessing until the very end. Unfortunately, I did have a difficult time keeping track of the multiple characters introduced in the beginning of the book who soon fade away, and much to my disappointment as the pages progressed the story became more reminiscent of Agatha Christie than Jane Austen. Not to worry. These flaws are minor quibbles in comparison to its burgeoning charms. Laurel Ann, Austenprose
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author should have entitled this book “Bridget Jones (the movie) meets a Murder Mystery.” While Ms. Kiely managed to work more than several famous lines of dialogue from Austen’s novels into her character’s conversations, she misses the boat when it comes to actually using Pride and Prejudice (the book) as a basis for her entertaining mystery. She relies too much on The Diary of Bridget Jones and not enough on Pride and Prejudice itself. A best friend named Bridget? Her boyfriend named Colin? A conflict stemming from their early years as neighbors? An ex-boyfriend named Mark? The main character is, of course, named Elizabeth. Any resemblance of Kiely’s Elizabeth and Austen’s Elizabeth ends there. This Elizabeth lacks the acerbic wit that we find in Austen’s Elizabeth. Kiely’s hero, named Peter, comes across as a, sort of bumbling guy who lurks in the background and manages to come to the rescue of Elizabeth on more than one occasion. Both characters are so indefinitely drawn that it is hard to discern any resemblance to the two main characters in Pride and Prejudice. Her characterization of Mr. Collins, however, is spot on. All of this aside, this is an entertaining mystery with a well thought out plot. It is a good read for those who like light cozies but if you are looking for a novel based upon the real Pride and Prejudice and not a movie loosely based on the same, you will be mildly disappointed.
TuRtLeJL More than 1 year ago
I was on pins and needles wanting to know the killer!! I am usually really good at guessing who is going to 'have their bucket kicked', but with this book, I just couldn't put a finger on it. The one who was 'bucket kicked' was one of my choices, I just didn't really figure out how. I was so flabbergasted as to who the 'bucket kicker' was! Not during the whole book would I have guessed. The one that I thought would wind up being the killer....nada! I won't give this 'didn't see it coming' end, but I was really impressed by the fact that during the whole book, I never even got a hint as to the plot twist. I am glad that Liz wound up with who she did, and I think that her roomates description was a blast. I loved the whole story and outcome. The characters were genuine and Tracy Kiely, is an author whose books I will definetely read more of! My kudos to Tracy Kiely for a great book! TuRtLe
nancydrew123 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It had all of the ingredients of an Agatha Christie-style cozy mystery. The classic murder mystery dinner - takes place at a Bed & Breakfast on Cape Cod on New Years Eve. The plot was clever and the characters were interesting. There were plenty of suspects-- each with a motive. The story moved right along. I loved the relationship between Elizabeth and Peter. Elizabeth's aunt was quirky and enjoyable. There were a few humorous lines. I loved the movie Pride & Prejudice but I was afraid the author might have too many hokey references.... but she didn't. She had just enough for Jane Austen fans but not enough to make it hokey. I was kept guessing until the end. Don't let the dull cover fool you. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next in this series.
TheViewFromHere More than 1 year ago
This is a fun read. A play where guests of an inn solve a mysterty ends up with someone actually being murdered, and the niece of the inn owner sets out to clear her aunt of all suspicion. The author is very clever in dropping in Austen quotes at just the right moment. My only criticism is the ending is a stretch, but it really doesn't matter because the story is a pleasure.