Murder Most Persuasive is Tracy Kiely’s 3rd mystery based loosely on Jane Austen’s novels. One can readily guess the influence from the title. Elizabeth Parker makes her third appearance as a sleuth. Much like Miss Marple she finds herself at the right place at the right time. Like Miss Marple, Elizabeth understands that she has a talent for solving mysteries.
In this instance, Elizabeth has gathered with family members at the funeral of great-uncle Martin Reynolds. When Uncle Martie’s house in St. Michael’s is sold for the benefit of his three daughters, the body of Michael Barrow is discovered buried underneath the swimming pool. Michael, who was to have married Reggie, Martie’s eldest daughter, had disappeared the night before the wedding and only days before the pool’s concrete shell was poured.
Along with Michael went a great deal of Uncle Martie’s money, embezzled by the runaway groom it was presumed. With the discovery of Michael’s body the questions uppermost in everyone’s minds are: how did Michael wind up under that slab of cement and what happened to the money?
As with Tracy’s other novels, the writing style is light and breezy and the mystery’s fun to follow. In this instance, the parallel to Austen’s Persuasion is hard to ignore. Ann, Uncle Marty’s middle daughter, broke up with young Joe Muldoon under the influence of her father and her dead mother’s dearest friend, an action she still regrets 8 years later. A mousy professor who has lost her looks, she encounters Joe, now a successful man and the detective on the case. Will this star crossed couple come to find love again? My curious mind not only wanted to know, but was wholly satisfied.
I could describe the plot in more detail, but I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. Of Tracy’s three mysteries, this is my favorite so far (as is Austen’s Persuasion). I enjoyed meeting the characters so much that I quite forgot to follow the clues. Still, even when I tried to solve the mystery, I was pleasantly surprised to find out who had done the dastardly deed.
Tracy writes mysteries in the old style. No gritty reality and base language sully her pretty towns and well-drawn characters. Blood, while mentioned, is not described down to its forensic core. Thus I recommend that you read Tracy’s book on a lazy afternoon in a sunny alcove, with a pot of steaming hot tea and some scones and clotted cream, and a cat on your lap and a dog at your feet. I give this delightful tale four out of five Regency tea cups.
Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (August 30, 2011)
The name of the winner will be drawn by random number generator at midnight on September 10th, EST. To enter, please tell me which Jane Austen character you would like to see murdered in a mystery and why. Contest over. Congratulations, Martha!
My other Kiely reviews: