“Married to Murder” is a short story by Jennifer Oberth, a crime writer and multiple NaNoWriMo winner. I had the pleasure of “meeting” her through the NaNo forums.
Jennifer’s story is about Ella Westin, an informant for a government agency in 1827. The story is written in a unique way—all of the events are written from Ella’s perspective, in a report she has filed for her supervisor Agent Arthur Brown.
Hours before Ella walks down the aisle to marry the love of her life, she discovers the body of her maid of honor, Mrs. Anita Bonavant. Agent Brown orders Ella to find the murderer before her wedding, and all the clues point to her groom Joe Westin.
The strength of this story is its humor. Ella is an intelligent, fearless, logical, blunt woman:
“How inconsiderate to die on my wedding day. She knew this meant more to me than anything, so she ends up murdered under my brand new shoes.”
And Ella is surrounded by other women who are not afraid to speak their minds.
“‘Mrs. Crabtree, how did you leave Anita Bonavant?’
‘Through the front door.’
I nodded, causing her to poke my skull with a sharp pin. I think she enjoyed it. ‘I meant, in what condition did you leave her?’
‘Beautiful. Well, from the back. She never was much to look at.’”
The pacing is just right for a short story. Using her wits, Ella manages to walk down the aisle, even amidst a fire and flood, and find the culprit. But there’s a twist, and Ella reveals what really happened in her personal notes at the end of her report.
This structure—told as a mix of Ella’s report and letter—gives readers a unique perspective of a crime story. Ella infuses her personality into the story, making her a multi-dimensional character. The letter at the end of the story shows that Ella is a very capable, confident informant, who can cleverly analyze evidence to deduce the truth.
Ella has her happy ending, despite all the setbacks she faced on her wedding day. Jennifer brings Ella’s story to life with her witty, crisp dialogue and attention to details. If you’re looking for a fun, quick read, then I suggest buying a copy of “Married to Murder.”