3 suspects are 1 man’s wives in new novel

Former Charlottean Jennifer Murphy has concocted a doozy of a plot in her debut novel, “I Love You More” (Doubleday, $24.95). Lawyer Oliver Lane is shot to death in his Outer Banks rental cottage, and the prime suspects are his three wives, each unaware of the others, but sporting the same haircut.

The star of the book is 12-year-old Picasso, Oliver’s precocious and dictionary-reading daughter, who tries to make sense of what she knows and doesn’t know.

Murphy was executive director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Art Commission and now lives in Seattle.

Kirkus Review calls this “a thoughtfully written, original and entertaining exploration of events ignited by love and lies.”

Murphy emailed me that her biggest dream was always to write and publish a novel. But as a former single working mom, a writing schedule was a luxury. She got serious after she went to the Wild Acres Writers Conference (now Table Rock Writers Conference) and studied with novelist Ann Hood, who encouraged her.

At Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Vermont, she met an agent, who offered to represent her. In 2011, Hood invited her to a conference in Tuscany, Italy. Murphy took 50 pages of her novel-in-progress, “I Love You More.” Hood liked it so much, she advised her to dump the novel she’d been working on and stick with this one.

Nine months later, she completed “I Love You,” and in a few more months, her agent sold it to Doubleday. “It took a while,” she writes, “and there were a lot of rejections along the way. But ultimately I believe it was the stick-with-it-ness that made it happen.”