by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of The Matinée Murders by Jeannette de Beauvoir, along with an interesting interview with Jeannette. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of The Matinée Murders, and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.
The Matinée Murders: Provincetown Mystery by Jeannette de Beauvoir
Review by Kathleen Costa
P’town’s Murder Mystery Magnet
Nestled on the tip of Cape Cod, Sydney Riley is the wedding and events planner for Race Point Inn, one of Provincetown‘s most prestigious hotels, and no matter the size of her office, she is a valuable part of the Inn’s success. Glenn, the owner, is thrilled about attending many of the screenings at the Provincetown’s Film Festival, but Mike, the manager, is stewing over the big Hollywood wedding set at the Inn since it has come to his attention his ex-husband is on the guest list. Ali, Sydney’s partner (boyfriend just doesn’t fit), is arriving soon for some well-deserved catching-up time [insert a wink], and as a movie buff, he hopes to catch sight of one of his favorite actors. Mirela, friend and local artist, has thrown Sydney a wrench telling her she must go home to Bulgaria to deal with an important family crisis, and there is a possibility she may not return. Sydney has a lot going on, including, of course, dealing with her mother calling to complain, but she knows her friend Julie Agassi, head of the detective squad, can handle any murder mystery. However, it still seems the mysteries, the dead bodies, and some personal peril finds Sydney first.
“Sydney Riley is to dead bodies as a pig is to truffles.”—Det. Julie Agassi, The Matinée Murders
The Matinée Murders earns 5/5 Silver Screen Stars…Engaging Entertainment!
“No one is a movie star forever.” Actor and heartthrob Brett Falcone is stepping away from all the glitz and glamour set to marry his partner and screenwriter Justin Braden. Sydney has been all the arrangements in true over-the-top fashion. Along with the nuptials, the Provincetown Film Festival has enticed throngs of tourists, film buffs, tabloid press, and Hollywood types to attend parties, lots of screenings including a special screening of Falcone’s new movie “Revenge,” and witness Falcone’s acceptance of a lifetime achievement award from the film society.
But as with any big event, straying from the arrangements can happen, and foregoing the planned pre-wedding dinner at the Inn for a questionably impromptu gathering at the wharf’s best restaurant seems typical for the groom who’s used to getting his way. Sydney and Ali were last minute invites, but dining with the big wigs from Hollywood might me fun. The place was packed with an enormous crowd including the public bathroom, so Sydney decides to take advantage of the private facilities for which she still had the key. Thank goodness she forgot to return it to her friend. But she’ll regret that when she discovers the dead body in the loo. The assistant producer on Falcone’s film is dead, the other producer is Mike’s ex-husband, and before the weekend’s over… a second murder? Ok, Breathe, Riley, breathe!
That’s a Wrap! Jeanette de Beauvoir has once again penned a very entertaining mystery with clever details, more than one dead body, lots of legitimate suspects with motives, and a glitzy Hollywood wedding! Brilliant! Engaging! And a bit of nail biting thrown in! But, it really is the variety of well-developed characters that makes this series a favorite. Sydney is a delightfully strong character who, like in most cozies, is a magnet for murder mysteries, but she’s meticulous, intelligent, and definitely strains her place in the hierarchy of amateur vs professional detectives. Her partner Ali is a unique addition that is done very well as a Lebanese-American, who thinks Italian sounds “sexy” when he refers to Sydney as “cara.” He is also Muslim who doesn’t drink alcohol, and due to his law enforcement training and experience, he is a great partner when dead bodies appear. I love the snarky banter between Sydney and Mike, and Mike’s past comes out with an endearing and sad story of a gay man from the South adding to the complexity of the characters. There’s Sydney’s mother with whom some may identify, but definitely cringe at her clueless manner. It sure is a page-turner…I was so tempted to go to the end and see what happened, but I squelched that urge and enjoyed the drama!
Be a Big Jeannette de Beauvoir Fan!
Jeannette de Beauvoir touts herself as a storyteller writing novels “to share the stories I think are important. I believe fiction tells the greatest truths, and that we can learn about ourselves through stories.” Along with this cozy-style mystery Sydney Riley series and historical fiction novels, she helps others share their stories through a “boutique writing agency” editing manuscripts and teaching writing at Jeannette de Beauvoir Academy with directing writing workshops and retreats, both online and onsite. “I’d be very happy to help you with your writing projects!”
Sydney Riley Mystery series
Death of a Bear (2017)
Murder at Fantasia Fair (2017)
The Deadliest Blessing (2018)
A Killer Carnival (2019)
A Fatal Folly (2019) Reviewed HERE
The Matinée Murders (2020)
Interview with Jeannette de Beauvoir:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Jeannette: I write my first book when I was eight years old. It was terrible. I’ve gotten a lot better at the craft since then!
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called and would you tell us a little about it?
Jeannette: Back in the early eighties I had a historical novel published under a pen name. It was called Légende. It’s long out of print, and just as well! It was a nice idea with two women finding a way to connect romantically in a time of repression, but the writing was awful. Well, I feel that way about everything I write, because you’re always improving, always getting better at your craft, so of course to look at older work is to wince.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?
Jeannette: I started writing historical fiction, as much of my academic work has been in history, but then I realized that I was *reading* mysteries, not historical fiction, there was a disconnect. I thought I couldn’t plot (historical fiction is easy: the plot’s already there!). A friend and I collaborated on a mystery, though, and I realized in the midst of it that the story was unwinding in my head even as I wrote, and that gave me confidence to do it on my own.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Jeannette: Provincetown is where I live, so I’m very familiar with it (and I like situating books in places I know). Plus, it’s an absolutely insane place, which provides a great context for a series. It’s a tourist town, the longest continuously operating art colony in the United States, an erstwhile Portuguese fishing village and a gay resort. Shake all of that together and really, there is no end to the stories you can come up with.
Plus, Provincetown has a number of annual festivals and “theme weeks” that attract certain demographics at specified times – even more material. I created a protagonist called Sydney Riley who works as a wedding planner at a fictional inn here: I wanted to give her some flexibility, the ability to meet just about anybody, and that provided it.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Jeannette: I am definitely on a mission. I love to entertain, and I hope my stories give good value in that department, but living in this incredibly diverse environment, I’ve really wanted to introduce some of the people who come here to the world at large. For example, one of my books takes place during Fantasia Fair, which is an event for the trans community. It’s a murder mystery, but the background, the context, is this event and the various people who attend such an event. I’m hoping that by bringing different groups of people into the stories that my readers may start to see them as real flesh-and-blood, rather than as “The Other.” So, yeah, basically I want to change the world. One mystery at a time!
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Jeannette: I write first thing when I get up. It’s when I’m at my best, my most creative. I do other writing and editing later in the day, but I don’t start any “outside” projects until I’ve done at least 2,000 words on my own.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Jeannette: I don’t outline. I envy outliners. It does me no good, though! Every time I have a direction I want the book to go, my characters tend to take it somewhere else, and I’ve learned to listen to them. What that means is that as I enter say the last fifth of the book, I’m suddenly playing whack-a-mole with plot holes, because I’ve set up for something that never happened. It’s not an easy way to write. Sometimes I leave plot holes in. Real life is full of plot holes, after all.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Jeannette: I do have my ideal. I’m very lucky.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Jeannette: More like midway through. I was lucky because the first publisher I approached published my first book. I had some success after that, and then… nothing for a while. I had a literary agent by then, but I just couldn’t seem to connect with publishers. Getting published is still a crap shoot in many ways.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Jeannette: I’m not sure there are any great rejection stories. Rejections come in terse little emails (they used to come in letters) saying that what one submitted doesn’t meet the publisher’s current editorial needs. Which could mean anything. Oh, wait, no, I lie! I got a rejection once that I kept. It was for the only children’s book I ever wrote, which was a retelling of the Navajo creation story. The publisher raved about it for about half a page before saying they couldn’t publish it because I’m not Navajo. That was years before the whole issue of cultural appropriation became so critical in literary circles. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I understand the notion – but it *was* a good book!
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Jeannette: I can’t think of anything, really… signings are fun but after a while you feel you could do them in your sleep. I like reading from my work, though it’s a challenge with a mystery novel, because you don’t want to give too much away.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Jeannette: I have a book I’d like to rework. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, but it needs… a lot. I never seem to find time for it, so clearly the time isn’t right. Eventually I’d like to have another series butSydney and I are good for a long time. I see us together for maybe even another ten years, but at some point we’re going to get sick of each other and I’ll need a new protagonist. Oh, and I have a YA historical novel about a Celtic princess who becomes a pirate. I’d like to work on that one some.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Jeannette: Stephen King, who got up at 4:00 every morning and wrote in the laundry room before going off to teach school for the day. That is a true artist, a true craftsman.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Jeannette: I “Ask the Google,” as an elderly friend phrased it. One imagines this all-powerful godlike figure! Thank God for Google, seriously. But I also spend a lot of time making sure I get things right. I write about people who are very different from me -lesbians, trans folk, bears, Portuguese fishermen, movie stars, gay men… I have an obligation to know them well before I can even consider writing about them. I spent a lot of time just hanging out with people and listening to their stories.
KRL: What do you read?
Jeannette: Mostly mysteries; my two favorite authors are Phil Rickman and Tana French. I go back often to re-read Golden Age authors such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, G.K. Chesterton, Josephine Tey, Christie, because they really did get it right. I also really like mid-century spy thrillers including Gavin Lyall, Le Carré, Adam Hall, Geoffrey Household and some WWII adventures.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Jeannette: I loved Reds and Chariots of Fire. I can watch them over and over again. I’ve been watching a lot of Scandinavian noir on the streaming channels. Occupied on Netflix is brilliant. The Americans on FX.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Jeannette: Best advice I ever got – keep the seat of your pants in the seat of the chair. Don’t get distracted. It’s about doing the work.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Jeannette: My greatest literary influence was Mary Stewart. I keep her photograph on my desk. She taught me just about everything I know about writing. I think mentors are essential in an artist’s life, and she was mine.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Jeannette: I officiate at weddings in Provincetown as my sort of summer gig. It’s why I made Sydney (my protagonist) a wedding planner. It’s such an honor to be with people on the best day of their lives, to become part of their story.
To enter to win a copy of The Matinée Murders, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “murders,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 27, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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