Miss Austen Investigates
by Jessica Bull
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Pub Date 25 Jan 2024 | Archive Date Not set
Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House, Michael Joseph
Discover Jane Austen as you've never seen her before!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every good mystery is in need of a brilliant sleuth...
Welcome to Hampshire, 1795, where a young Jane Austen has her sights set on securing a marriage proposal from the dashing Tom Lefroy at a local ball.
But when a shocking discovery is made - a milliner's lifeless body tucked away in a linen closet - Jane finds herself embroiled in an unexpected murder mystery.
As she races against the clock to clear her beloved brother Georgy's name, Jane uses her sharp wits to navigate the treacherous waters of society, unmasking secrets and unearthing hidden motives along the way. With every twist and turn, Jane's determination to solve the case deepens. And if she fails, her brother will face the ultimate punishment - the hangman's noose...
Join Jane on her quest for justice as she faces down danger, deceit, and scandal amidst her own friends and neighbours. Will she uncover the truth in time, or will the real killer go free? One thing's for certain - in Hampshire, nothing is as it seems...
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 101 members
During a ball at the grand Tudor manor of Lord John and Lady Harcourt, a body is found in the laundry closet, brutally murdered. Enter Jane, fresh from the stolen embrace of her true love Tom Lefroy, who immediately smells a rat! She knows the victim as a Mrs Renault, a milliner she has recently encountered at the Basingstoke market. All seems lost when Jane’s mild-natured non-verbal brother Georgy is arrested but the razor-sharp Austen mind goes into overdrive to discover the actual culprit.
The author, Jessica Bull, has done a nifty job of combining fact and fiction to create an energetic mystery steeped in Georgian Britain. We don’t find the slight and sickly Jane who lives out her spinsterhood with her parents; the Jane of Ms Bull’s world is full of beans and questions and keen to take on the patriarchy. Any close reader of the Austen canon would agree, the clues are there as to Jane Austen’s astute investigative nature and adventurous attitude. I thought all the characters were unique and believable. The destitute family caring for Georgy is lovingly portrayed and a welcome addition.
The plot is well-paced and deliciously enticing. There are cliffhangers, clues and red herrings enough to keep you guessing and reading. The little missives to her sister Cassandra at the end of the chapters serve as a reminder of the suspects and their motives and add to the generous seasoning of good humour that underpins the text. I adore the cover too, a clever take on the silhouette art popular at the time.
I do enjoy a light cosy mystery and this was the best I’ve read in a long while! It’s a fun mash-up so if you’re a fan of Agatha Christie or Richard Osman but you have a hankering to be invited to trip the light fantastic at Bridgerton, this will surely keep you in nights. But not too many, it’s a fast read! Thanks as evert to NetGalleyUK and Penguin Michael Joseph for the eARC.