Book Review: Murder on the Bride’s Side

Barbara Poelle had a contest over at Dead Guy about a week and a half ago involving the wondrous glory that is Sharktopus and the rules for a drinking game that will enable one to get into the spirit of a movie that is part  Frankenstein, part Deep Blue Sea, part eye candy,* and all Roger Corman.

As I might have mentioned, I won and my prize included a copy of Murder on the Bride’s Side by Tracy Kiely.**  I was delighted, since I’d enjoyed the first book in the series, Murder at Longbourn, but hadn’t realized a new one had come out until I was way too late to get a decent spot on the library’s reserve list.***

The package  arrived yesterday and I opened the book about 4:30 p.m.

I finished it this morning at breakfast.  It’s that good.

Elizabeth Parker is maid of honor at the wedding of her irrepressible friend Bridget. Weddings are always stressful, but Bridget’s self-serving aunt-by-marriage, Roni, seem determined to go for the record.  She insults almost everyone in the family, verbally abuses her teenaged daughter, and  announces that her husband Avery—who is recovering from a stroke—will be selling the family business.    None of this endears her to anyone, especially acerbic matriarch Elsie, good-hearted cousin Harry, and soon-to-be-unemployed  uncle-by-marriage David.

Elizabeth runs interference when she can, but she’s got another problem—the beautiful wedding coordinator seems to be a very good friend of Elizabeth’s boyfriend.    Even the comfort of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (the book and the movie) isn’t enough to calm Elizabeth’s nerves.

And then Elizabeth finds Roni’s body . . . and everyone’s a suspect but the bride and groom.

This book is wry, funny, occasionally outrageous (that would be Bridget), and one good mystery.

Absolutely everyone in the family had a motive for murdering the victim—after the first couple chapters, even I had one.   There were a couple of red herrings, one of them nicely subtle, and I honestly still had three suspects in mind when Elizabeth figured it out.

Please notice that I didn’t say “finally figured out”—this book doesn’t drag.  With characters like this, the plot doesn’t have a chance to drag.  I hope to see more of them, especially Detective Grant—he’s intriguing.

Elizabeth is a different kind of amateur detective—for one thing, she’s reluctant.  She loves Jane Austen, not mysteries.  She only becomes involved when people she cares about are accused of murder.   And, thank heavens she isn’t Too Stupid to Live.  She makes mistakes, yes, but normal, believable ones, even when it comes to her love life—believe me.

The plot doesn’t follow Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility as much as the first book mirrored Pride and Prejudice, though if Elizabeth is Sense, Bridget is all Sensibility.  But that didn’t occur to me until later—I was too busy enjoying the story.

Read Tracy Kiely’s books.  Just don’t get between me and the reserve lists when her next one is released.

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*I’m referring to the CGI effects, myself, but if you’re into girls in bikinis getting dragged into the ocean by a vengeful aquatic psychopath, this is a Corman flick.

**And a copy of Banished by Sophie Littlefield.  Reader, I squeed.

***You’d think one of the perks of a career in library services would be to get all the good books before anyone else, but no, we have to lie in wait for  just like anyone else.  Or enter contests.