Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pg. 99: Cordelia Frances Biddle's "Deception's Daughter"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Cordelia Frances Biddle's Deception's Daughter.

About the book, from the publisher:
Critics raved about The Conjurer, the first in Cordelia Frances Biddle’s superb historical mystery series. Now Philadelphian heiress Martha Beale is back in a second thrilling installment laced with fast-paced intrigue and exquisite period detail.

When the daughter of one of Philadelphia’s finest families disappears, Martha Beale becomes the unwilling liaison between the girl’s aloof and aristocratic parents and Thomas Kelman, Martha’s secret beau, who is overseeing the investigation.

What appears to be a kidnapping, however, takes a darker turn, and complex clues implicate rich and poor alike. It is up to Martha and Kelman to unravel the diabolical plot--and the painful disparity of their social classes--as they struggle to unmask the killer.

As in The Conjurer, Cordelia Frances Biddle’s elegant and evocative prose brings to vibrant life mid-nineteenth-century Philadelphia. Deception’s Daughter is a stunning sequel from a multitalented crime writer.
Among the early praise for the novel:
“Biddle has done more than devise an engaging story populated by memorable characters. She has managed to restore to us an earlier Philadelphia, [which is] intact and alive.”
--Jon Clinch, author of Finn

“Offers fully human characters and a credible plot. Exceptional attention to period detail helps transport the reader to a past very unlike our own and yet so similar.”
--Publishers Weekly

“A Philadelphia socialite and her hesitant suitor team up to solve a crime in the latest from Biddle (The Conjurer, 2007, etc.). Wealthy heiress Martha Beale met mayor's assistant Thomas Kelman when they investigated her father's murder. Soon they're using their talents to delve into robbery and kidnapping among the cream of Philadelphia society, like Harrison and Georgine Crowther, whose daughter Dora is soon to be married to Percy VanLennep. When they both disappear, the outcry is prodigious, and Thomas, who specializes in handling high-profile crimes, is called in to inquire into the circumstances. The parents' insistence that the couple hasn't eloped is supported by the arrival of a ransom note. Martha visits the Crowther home both with Thomas and on her own to support the spirits of the devastated parents and bring her own special talents to the hunt. Crowther goes to deliver the ransom money to the doorstep of a house of prostitution. But the private agent he's hired scares away the street urchin who tries to pick up the payoff money, and soon thereafter Dora's body is found buried in a coal heap. Although the urchin's father is a prime suspect, the secrets the Crowther and VanLennep families are hiding may provide other motives. Martha's second case develops her love life and offers more mystery than her debut, along with a wealth of period details.”
Read the first chapter from Deception's Daughter, and learn more about the book and author at Cordelia Frances Biddle's website.

Cordelia Frances Biddle co-wrote Murder at San Simeon with Patricia Hearst and writes the popular Nero Blanc crossword puzzle mysteries with her husband, Steve Zettler. The Conjurer is the first novel in the Martha Beale mystery series.

The Page 69 Test: The Conjurer.

The Page 99 Test: Deception's Daughter.

--Marshal Zeringue