Murder on the Bride's Side: A Mystery
by Tracy Kiely
Review by Gayle Surrette
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312537579
Date: 31 August 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Weddings seem to be one of the great stressors of life. Who hasn't wanted to do in a relative when they tick you off just one too many times during the stressful days leading up to the actual wedding? In Murder on the Bride's Side, someone actually managed to fit a murder into the schedule of events. Since nearly everyone has a motive and most of the family believe the killer did them a service -- though they'd never say so aloud -- how will they find the killer when no one has an alibi.
The book takes place in modern day, however each mystery has a Jane Austen novel at its core. The first book, Murder at Longbourn, was filled with references to Pride and Prejudice. Murder on the Bride's Side is a cornucopia of snippets from Sense and Sensibility.
The main character and our viewpoint character is Elizabeth Parker who dreams of meeting her own Mr. Darcy -- and she thinks she has in Peter, who she has been dating for nearly a year. But it's hard to concentrate on Bridget's wedding when the super-gorgeous and organized wedding planner has made it plain that she's got her sights on Peter and intends to win him back (the wedding planner dated Peter years ago and tossed him aside and now regrets it).
The wedding is down to the final week of events and everyone is on edge. It doesn't help that Bridget's aunt, Roni, is making no effort what so ever to get along with anyone in the family. When she turns up dead, it's an event that most of the family feels should be celebrated. However, when Bridget's cousin Harry becomes chief suspect, Elizabeth is expected to swing into action and find the real killer.
There are clues but since everyone hated Roni with a fervent passion that borders obsession, it would be easier to find out who didn't want to kill her -- anyone that didn't know her for starters. Nevertheless, Elizabeth throws herself into the case hoping to find who did it so the police will concentrate on someone other than Harry.
One thing that you don't often see in mysteries is a story that deals with justice versus the law. It's often said that Justice is blind -- meaning everyone is treated equally. Over the years, it seems more to mean that no one actually judges -- the law is the law, zero tolerance, no extenuating circumstances considered or allowed -- or at least it often seems that way. Kiely does skirt around that issue in this story. Isn't murder wrong no matter how objectionable the victim may be in life? Doesn't everyone deserve to be accorded the dignity of having their killer brought to justice no matter who they are or whether they were likeable? How many of us have even thought about it?
There's an ending but many may not like it. It's neat. It's all tied up. But is it the ending you'd expect or want if it happened in your life or social circle? I don't know, but I understand what the characters did -- I'm still not sure I approve.
I really think this is a book that should be up for a book club because there's a lot to talk about. Looking forward to comments on this one.