Monday, May 25, 2015

Mash-up of Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes

New Zealand author and English teacher Debbie Cowens, who previously published a literary mash-up of legendary short story writer Katherine Mansfield with the horror genre, has now turned her hand to combining a classic romance with crime fiction. In MURDER & MATCHMAKING, Cowens blends aspects of Jane Austen's PRIDE & PREJUDICE with Sherlock Holmesian Victorian-era detective fiction.

Early reviews have been very positive, with yesterday's Herald on Sunday saying:
"Cowens does a fantastic job of melding the writing styles of Austen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, crafting a story that is equal parts intriguing and hilarious. Is it mash-up, parody, horror, satire, homage or just good writing? I say, all of them."
The Booksellers NZ blog calls the book "delightful" and that "the prose is just so utterly engaging that you cannot help but be compelled along with it". Le Petite Mania says the book is "funny, macabre, dry and clever", and this week's New Zealand Listener has headlined its coverage with "Murder Most Fun", before saying that Cowens' writing "hits the tone spot on, and her clever twists on the source material should elicit knowing chuckles".

Cowens signing at her book launch last month
I'm stoked that readers and reviewers are enjoying Cowens' book. I first came across MURDER & MATCHMAKING several months ago, when there was a PledgeMe campaign running to see the book more widely available in New Zealand bookstores. It was to be published by Paper Road Press in ebook and print-on-demand, but those involved decided to fundraise to get print copies more widely available. That seems to have paid off, with a successful book launch late last month, reports of the book selling out in the likes of Unity Books, and getting good reviews from readers and in major magazines and newspapers.

It's great to see authors and publishers thinking creatively and getting proactive in terms of getting their books into the hands of potential readers. There can often be a lot of doom and gloom in the reporting of the state of the books world, so I'm pleased to see Cowens and Paper Road Press having some success.

Here's the blurb for MURDER & MATCHMAKING:
The young ladies of Hertfordshire are dropping like flies. 
Miss Elizabeth Bennet could not be more pleased when the famous London detective Mr Sherlock Darcy makes it his business to solve the mystery of three young ladies’ deaths – not least because he shares her suspicion that there must be more behind the deaths than mere accident. But even she never could have guessed, as they embark upon the investigation, how close to home the solution lies. 
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a mother in possession of unmarried daughters must be in want of eligible bachelors. Less well known are the lengths to which she might go to attract them… 
Bursting with subterfuge, flirtation, and murder most foul, Murder & Matchmaking will lure you into a world of romantic intrigue, family drama, and amateur detectiving. Jane Austen’s witty prose meets the perplexing mysteries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in a book that finally answers the question: if Mrs Bennet is so concerned about her daughters finding suitable matches, why doesn’t she really do something about their chances?

Cowens is a Kapiti-based writer and English teacher. She co-authored the award-winning Mansfield with Monsters with her husband and her stories have been published in both New Zealand and international publications and anthologies. Murder & Matchmaking is her first novel and she says it weaves together many of her favourite things: Jane Austen heroines, a Sherlock Holmes-inspired detective, mischievous canines and intrigues. You can read more at her website here.

1 comment:

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