Murder in the 'Burbs

That's Agatha Christie, Queen of Crime. If I had to write books like that, on a typewriter without my 'delete' and 'find/replace' keys, there would be one more death to talk about; not murder, but suicide.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records (not to be confused with the beer company), she is the best selling author of all time. Only the Bible is known to have sold more than Agatha's four BILLION copies.

According to Wikipedia,
almost all of Agatha Christie’s books are whodunits, focusing on the English middle and upper classes. Usually, the detective either stumbles across the murder or is called upon by an old acquaintance, who is somehow involved. Gradually, the detective interrogates each suspect, examines the scene of the crime and makes a note of each clue, so readers can analyze it and be allowed a fair chance of solving the mystery themselves. Then, about halfway through, or sometimes even during the final act, one of the suspects usually dies, often because they have inadvertently deduced the killer's identity and need silencing. In a few of her novels, including Death Comes as the End and Ten Little Indians, there are multiple victims. Finally, the detective organizes a meeting of all the suspects and slowly denounces the guilty party, exposing several unrelated secrets along the way, sometimes over the course of thirty or so pages. The murders are often extremely ingenious, involving some convoluted piece of deception. Christie’s stories are also known for their taut atmosphere and strong psychological suspense, developed from the deliberately slow pace of her prose.

Twice, the murderer surprisingly turns out to be the narrator of the story, and in four stories, Christie allows the murderer to escape justice (and in the case of the last three, implicitly almost approves of their crimes); these are The Witness for the Prosection, Murder on the Orient Express, Curtain, and The Unexpected Guest.

My latest, MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE, is the first in a series of cozy mysteries with an edge. It's a whodunit with no gore and, hopefully, lots of laughs. It's set in upscale suburbia with uppity neighbors and characters from a Catholic church at its core. Here is the first paragraph from the query:

Mapleton Falls is a perfect town where perfect families lead perfect lives. At least, that’s what newcomer Jenny Sampson thinks when she first moves in. But, when Jenny’s next-door-neighbor, Amanda Brennan, a beautiful, caring, doctor’s wife and mother of two, turns up dead in the entryway of her Georgian-style McMansion, Jenny finds herself muddled in the middle of a murder.


I've never done this before, but that makes it all the more exciting. Here's the first page to my new novel. I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Chapter One, Page One
I looked out and saw the assistant DA drive her old, beat-up Volvo into my long driveway. Finally! I ran out and gave her a hug. "Oh, god, Bree. I'm so glad you're here! I can't believe Amanda's gone. I just saw her yesterday. How could this have happened"

The picture I'd e-mailed her this morning showed five smiling women holding up champagne glasses, happily toasting the New Year. Standing on the end to my left, Amanda's sparkling blue eyes conveyed hope for the upcoming year. What could have gone so terribly wrong in only three, short months?

Bree put her arm around me and walked me back into the house. "Calm down, Jen. You need to tell me everything, so take a deep breath and get your thoughts together. "

"I know, you're right. I'm sorry. I've been a major mess since I got the news. Do you want a cup of tea? I made your favorite - chai with extra cinnamon."

"That's your favorite."

"I know, but you'll drink it, won't you?"

"Don't I always?"

I handed her a cup of tea in her favorite mug depicting Sally, Dick and Jane from kindergarten primers. "JANE KNOWS SALLY, SHE DOESN'T CARE TO KNOW DICK." I loved reminding her of her expansive sexual preferences.

"Okay," she said, pulling out a pad and paper. "Let's start from the beginning."
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