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Originally published Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 3:01 AM

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‘Otherwise Engaged’: a killer with a wedding-dress fetish

Amanda Quick’s new novel, “Otherwise Engaged,” tells the lively story of resourceful Amity Doncaster, whose Caribbean voyage is interrupted by the search for a serial killer who dresses each of his victims in a wedding gown.


Special to The Seattle Times

Author appearance

Amanda Quick

The author, otherwise known as Jayne Ann Krentz, will sign books at noon Tuesday, April 22, at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, 117 Cherry Street, Seattle; free (206-587-5737 or seattlemystery.com).

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‘Otherwise Engaged’

by Amanda Quick

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 342 pp., $26.95

Fans of Amanda Quick’s historical novels know to expect feisty and resourceful heroines, but Quick — one of three names under which Seattle author Jayne Ann Krentz writes — has outdone herself with the 19th-century protagonist of “Otherwise Engaged.”

English-born Amity Doncaster, off on a voyage in the Caribbean, is an adventurous writer of travelogues, and when she encounters while ashore an aristocratic fellow shipmate who has been shot and left for dead, she knows exactly what to do. She hires two sturdy louts to carry Benedict Stanbridge back to the ship; whips out her late father’s medical kit; sews up Stanbridge and nurses him right back to health.

Amity also is the kind of lady who foils a subsequent kidnapping attempt with an unusual accessory: a sharp metal Japanese fan, whose knifelike blades secure her escape from a serial killer who likes to dress up his murder victims in a wedding dress and photograph them. You begin almost to feel sorry for Amity’s antagonists, who are surely outmatched until a final nerve-wracking repeat encounter with the killer.

Stanbridge, the man whom Amity earlier rescued, is an engineer who also is a spy for the British government. The pair, drawn to each other, pose as an engaged couple as they begin amassing clues together about the killer’s identity. Gradually it becomes apparent that the Bridegroom, as the killer is dubbed in the press, is one of them: a member of upper-class society, possibly even someone they know.

Shifting the perspective from the searchers to the killer, Krentz ramps up the tension as the attraction between Amity and Stanbridge grows. Subsidiary characters, including Amity’s widowed sister and a clever police inspector, add to a plot that sustains the suspense in a novel that never loses its sense of humor.

Melinda Bargreen is the former classical music critic for The Seattle Times. She’s a freelance contributor to the Times and reviews concerts for 98.1 Classical KING FM (www.king.org).



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