Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Jane Aus... Er, Stephanie Barron

Jane Austen, Detective.

I loved the concept but wondered about the execution. Could anyone pull it off, particularly in first person? I shouldn’t have worried. Stephanie Barron does a marvelous job of pulling us right into Jane’s world and she does it all in her inimitable voice.

When Jane’s dear friend Isobel is married to an Earl everything seems to point to a felicitous future for the happy couple. That the Earl falls ill and dies on the eve of their bridal ball seems a cruel vagary of fate. Soon a note arrives that accuses Isobel of murder and she seeks advice from level-headed Jane. Together they must outwit a murderer and a nefarious younger son, and bring the true murderer to justice.

There are now nine books in this series and I have read them all. I have just revisited this, the first, after a couple years and it is as enjoyable the second time as it was the first. Due to the old-fashioned language and phraseology some readers might find this book a bit slow going, but it is well worth the effort. In addition there are actually footnotes in the text that help to explain the more archaic terms and customs of the time. Highly recommended.

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