I'm pleased to welcome Jessica Berg to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Jessica writes the Eliza Darcy Mystery series. MURDER MOST PEMBERLEY is the first book in the series and was released earlier this year.
Kathy: American Eliza Darcy travels to England in MURDER MOST PEMBERLEY and is able to accomplish a lot on her list of English "must-dos". If you were to go to England what would be some items on your list?
JB: When I was in high school, I traveled to London with a music group. So, if I were to go back as an adult, I would take a tour of the countryside, visit old castles, tour estates, and just bask in the beauty of the English countryside. Of course, I'd have to squeeze in a visit to Chatsworth House as that is the house used in BBC's Pride and Prejudice's outside shots of Pemberley!
Kathy: Eliza goes to England to participate in a Darcy/Bennet family reunion. Have you ever been to a family reunion?
JB: I have a large extended family, so those events are inevitable:) However, none of them that I've ever attended has ever included a murder!
Kathy: Do you happen to be a huge Jane Austen fan? Why do you think she remains so popular?
JB: Jane Austen is my favorite author, so, yes, you could say that I am a huge Jane Austen fan! Part of her remaining popularity, even after all this time, centers around her knowledge of people and society. And, as society and people have not changed all that much from Austen's time, modern readers can still find connections and relate to her books. I teach PRIDE AND PREJUDICE to my AP Literature/Composition students every year, and while most start the unit with groans and moans, my seniors end the novel not only liking and/or loving it but come away with connections to their own lives.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
JB: My very first mystery novel was Agatha Christie's THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD. After that splendid and brilliant work of literature, I devoured all of her novels! As most modern cozy authors take on some or most of Christie's traits, the transition to reading contemporary cozies was an easy switch for me.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
JB: I do! I write contemporary romance and have two books published, with one on the way through Amazon's new Vella program.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
JB: My Eliza Darcy Mystery series follows American Eliza Darcy as she delves into her family history, helps to restore Pemberley to its former glory, and, of course, solves murders whenever they pop in for tea. My other series, with book two on the way through Vella, centers around a farming family in South Dakota. There is danger, intrigue, romance, and faith all mixed together for one suspenseful ride!
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
JB: My favorite character is Great Aunt Iris. She is a hoot to write because she has zero filters and says whatever pops into her head, whether it's appropriate or not. I channel my goal of what I want to be when I turn 80: zero filter, an unquenchable sense of adventure, and the idea that age is only a number, and then I have Great Aunt Iris live it for me!
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
JB: My Eliza Darcy Mystery series is inspired by my love of Austen's characters and literary world and Agatha Christie's prowess and style as an author. Combined, these two ladies pack a punch that deserves to be put on the page!
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
JB: This was a decision made almost nine years ago. I self-published my first novel (and, boy, did I do it all wrong, but that's a discussion for another time) because I wanted to share my writing with people outside my family. This goal, to share my writing, to bring joy and laughter to people around the world, and to give people an escape from the realities of life still fuels my writing. I, thank the good Lord, just know how to do it so much better than when I first started this journey!
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
JB: Jane Austen (of course), Agatha Christie (of course), C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien!
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
JB: I am working toward a Master's of English, so I haven't read for pleasure for quite a few months! My summer grad course centers around the unruly women of the 18th century, and we just finished up the week dedicated to love and sex. Wow! Scandalous!! But just this morning, I read two poems from two female British abolitionists: "Slavery, a Poem" by Hannah More and "Epistle to William Wilberforce, Esq. on the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade" by Anna Letitia Barbauld.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
JB: Reading and writing are no-brainers, but there are other things I enjoy outside of those two hobbies. I love to embroider, up-cycle, collect antiques, work in my flower garden, complete puzzles (both physical ones and digital ones on my iPad), walking, riding bike, traveling, and delving into nature (especially the prairie as I have a special place in my heart for the rolling hills, waving grasses, and open sky).
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
JB: Sparkling water--I probably drink way too much of it, but there are always cans of it in my fridge and in the pantry, low-calorie ice cream, such as Halo Top, for when my sweet tooth demands treats, salsa, when the spicy part of me rears its head, and tortilla chips because you can't just eat salsa with a spoon.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
JB: I am currently working on book two of the Eliza Darcy Mystery series. I'm excited about the future of this series, and other projects or ideas are on the proverbial backburner until Eliza and her sleuthing posse get settled into a long-running series.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
JB: My favorite thing about being an author is offering people a way to escape reality and giving them a chance to sit back, relax, and go on an adventure with my characters.
The First Eliza Darcey Mystery
Eliza Darcy is thrilled to travel to England to attend a family reunion. Her father refuses to speak about the reason he left England and Eliza is determined to solve her family mystery. Accompanied by her cat, Eliza joins a multitude of relatives at the family estate of Pemberley where she witnesses family dysfunction in action along with an assortment of suspicious servants. An argument leads to a brawl which leads to one body dead and another missing. Is her father's break with the family tied to the current murder and her aunt's seemingly nefarious actions? Although she has the assistance of her outgoing cousin, eager great-aunt, and a hunky Brit, Eliza soon discovers that playing sleuth can be downright dangerous.
A young woman abroad, a grand mansion with hidden staircases, a dashing romantic interest, and a family mystery are intriguing elements that combine to make an Anglophile's dream. Eliza is a likeable protagonist, equally charming, adventurous, and bold. Heath is almost too good to be true, but I still like him and find him an admirable foil for Eliza. Great Aunt Iris makes me laugh. I still picture her forcing Eliza to give her a boost so she can spy on the others. There are lots of dastardly characters; a deluge of sinister servants and an evil aunt who is definitely a person you love to hate. For a moment I was concerned that the villain had gone too far, but no worries, things turned out fine.
While there is definitely a mystery, actually more than one, there is a lot of romance. In fact, the romance almost overshadows the mystery. While I think the romantic aspect adds to the story, more mystery minded readers might disagree.
With lots of laughs, love, and enough chilling moments to make you pause, MURDER MOST PEMBERLEY is a fun start to a new series.
Murder Most Pemberley (Eliza Darcy Mysteries) by Jessica Berg
About Murder Most Pemberley
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (March 8, 2021)
Paperback: 288 pages
Eat a crumpet. Check. Say “bloody hell” in an English pub. Check. Solve three murders and fall in love? Definitely not on the list. But when England dishes up murder, even an American girl knows it’s time to channel her inner Agatha Christie.
American Eliza Darcy travels to Merry Old England to partake in a Darcy/Bennet family reunion for one reason: to solve the estrangement between her father and uncle. Not long after Eliza’s arrival and exploration of the vast estate of her ancestors, a dead body surfaces. Murder and mayhem replace afternoon teas and flirting with her British heartthrob. Eliza has every intention of keeping her snoot out of official Scotland Yard business, but when clues to the murder begin to merge with her investigation into her family’s rift, her inner wannabe sleuth self-activates.
With the help of her batty great-aunt and the sexy Heath Tilney, Eliza hurries to untangle the web of lies and secrets. As corpses start to pile up faster than the clues, Eliza fears the estate’s family graveyard will swallow another body: hers.
About Jessica Berg
Jessica Berg, a child of the Dakotas and the prairie, grew up amongst hard-working men and women and learned at an early early age to “put some effort into it.” Following that wise adage, she has put effort into teaching high school English for over a decade, being a mother to four children (she finds herself surprised at this number, too), basking in the love of her husband of more than fifteen years and losing herself in the imaginary worlds she creates.Author Links