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The Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma's Match (Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Series #5)
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The Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma's Match (Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Series #5)

4.0 12
by Carrie Bebris

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Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are looking forward to a relaxing stay with dear friends when their carriage is hailed by a damsel-in-distress outside of the village of Highbury. Little do the Darcys realize that gypsies roam these woods, or that both their possessions and the woman are about to vanish into the night.

The Darcys seek out the parish magistrate, who is having a


Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are looking forward to a relaxing stay with dear friends when their carriage is hailed by a damsel-in-distress outside of the village of Highbury. Little do the Darcys realize that gypsies roam these woods, or that both their possessions and the woman are about to vanish into the night.

The Darcys seek out the parish magistrate, who is having a difficult evening of his own. Mr. Knightley and his new wife, the former Miss Emma Woodhouse (the heroine of Jane Austen's Emma) are hosting a party to celebrate the marriage of their friends, Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Jane Fairfax. During dinner, Mr. Edgar Churchill, uncle and adoptive father of the groom, falls suddenly ill and dies. The cause of death: poison.

When the Darcys and the Knightleys join forces to investigate the crimes, they discover that the robbery and Edgar Churchill's death may be connected. Together they must work to quickly locate the source of the poison and the murderer's motive--before the killer can strike again.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Of the many writers dabbling in the world of Austen's novels, Bebris is one of the best, and readers will be thoroughly hooked by her latest whodunit.” —Booklist

“Bebris' favorite Regency crime-sleuthing couple are perfect foils for the ingenuous, and occasionally ingenious, matchmaking of Emma Knightley (nee Woodhouse). ” —RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

“Perhaps the most faithful sequel to Austen in this beguiling series.” —Publishers Weekly

The Intrigue at Highbury is a fantastic addition to Carrie Bebris's already outstanding ‘Mr. And Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series,' and in my humble opinion, it is her best novel yet.” —Austenesque Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Bebris’s agreeable fifth Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mystery (after 2008’s Matters at Mansfield), the couple are on their way to visit cousins of Darcy’s in Sussex when outside the Surrey village of Highbury they stop to assist a young woman in distress. When Elizabeth and Darcy get back in their coach, they discover some valuable heirlooms missing. Meanwhile, “Miss Jones” has vanished. They inform the nearest magistrate, Mr. Knightley, whose wife, Emma, has just hosted a party where a guest has died. Elizabeth and Emma take an active role by interviewing local residents about the theft and the death, while the gentlemen play smaller parts further afield in Surrey and London. Close questioning and careful thought, rather than magic as in earlier books, help solve the Highbury conundrums. The main characters behave more like Austen’s originals than they did in Matters at Mansfield, helping make this perhaps the most faithful sequel to Austen in this beguiling series. (Mar.)
VOYA - Florence Munat
This series—loosely based on Jane Austen's six Regency Era novels—gets better and better with each new addition. The fifth book borrows characters and situations from Emma. Some incidents involve Emma Woodhouse's notorious matchmaking among the villagers of Highbury. But as usual when Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy appear, the story transforms into a thrilling mystery. This one involves highway robbery, mistaken identity, kidnapping, a gypsy seer/healer, word puzzles revealing clues, and numerous belladonna poisonings—one of them fatal. Enroute to visit friends, the Darcys' carriage is attacked and robbed in the dead of night. Journeying to the nearest village to report the crime, the Darcys meet Highbury's Magistrate Knightley and his new bride, the former Emma Woodhouse. The foursome develops into a delightful sleuthing team who examine witnesses, clues, and motivations until the crimes are reasoned out. Everyone who deserves a happy ending gets one. The pacing of the plot and emulation of Austen's style are near perfect, with humorous moments—especially the repartee a la Nick and Nora between the Darcys—balancing the more somber moments. Fascinating period detail, such as the village's welcoming of a peddler into their homes, their suspicious treatment of the Roma (gypsies), and the differences between nobility and the working class enrich the lively plot. Much is taught about early nineteenth—century attitudes toward inheritance, hospitality, dress, and entertainments. The first several pages require concentration while many characters, their relationships, and complicated situations are presented. This section may deter some readers. But after the stage has been set, the story whistles by with cliffhanging chapter endings that keep one cheerfully reading until the villain is revealed. Reviewer: Florence Munat

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Series , #5
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.85(d)

Read an Excerpt


“When such success has blessed me in this instance, dear papa, you cannot think that I shall leave off  match- making.” —Emma Wood house, Emma

Emma Wood house Knightley, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy  disposition— a happiness recently compounded by her marriage to a gentleman of noble character and steadfast  heart— seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly  twenty- two years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

With two notable exceptions: the Reverend and Mrs. Philip Elton.

“I am still appalled by their conversation,” Emma said to her husband as they sat in Hart.eld’s drawing room after dinner. Her father had just retired for the night, leaving the newlyweds to enjoy an hour of peace before retiring themselves. Emma’s mind, however, was anything but quiet as she dwelled upon the discussion she had overheard that morning, and neither the familiar comforts of the  room— the Chippendale sofa and side chairs, the portrait of her late mother above the great  hearth— nor the novelty of her bridegroom’s  now- permanent presence there, could quell her agitation.

“That is what comes of eavesdropping,” Mr. Knightley said.

“I was not eavesdropping,” Emma insisted. “I was tying my  bootlace.”

The lace had come undone as she left the home of Miss Bates, a middle- aged spinster who lived with her el der ly mother in reduced circumstances on the upper .oor of a modest  house. Emma had visited their rooms many times (though perhaps not so often as she ought). Never before, however, had the humble apartment felt so small. The Eltons had called so shortly after Emma’s own arrival that it was some time before she could with propriety effect an escape. “I paused at the base of the stairs to .x the lace. Could I help it that the Eltons emerged from the apartment and began their discussion on the landing before I had done?”

Mr. Knightley’s expression suggested that she might have secured the half- boot more rapidly had she wanted to. Sixteen years her se nior, he had known Emma her  whole life, and was as well acquainted with her foibles as he was with her charms. His dark eyes narrowed in doubt, and for a moment she dreaded an admonition delivered in his usual forthright manner. Instead, he  rose and stirred. The flickering light shadowed his countenance and silhouetted his tall frame. Though he possessed the maturity and bearing of a man  eight-and- thirty, he had maintained the .rm .gure of younger days, and Emma congratulated herself on having found such a  .ne- looking husband once she had .nally opened her eyes to the gentleman next door.

He returned the poker to its stand and adjusted the screen to shield them from the heat. “It is fortunate that you managed to exit without the Eltons’ seeing you in the stairwell.” He sat down beside her on the sofa. “To have been caught listening to their conversation, however involuntarily, would not have re.ected well on you.”

The last position in which Emma would want to .nd herself was that of giving Augusta Elton any room to expand her already in.ated sense of superiority. Mrs. Elton’s greatest claim to society was a  brother-in- law who owned a  barouche- landau and an estate near Bristol. Though the  house was named Maple Grove, Mrs. Elton seemed to think it was St. James’s Palace. She also took extraordinary pride in her status as the vicar’s wife, performing her role with pretensions of elegance and a pronounced air of noblesse oblige. Sadly, Mr. Elton, though a clergyman, was nearly as vain and insufferable as she.

“It is still more fortunate that I did overhear them, for now I can rescue poor Miss Bates from their plotting.”


“Honestly, you should have heard them! Talking about how Miss Bates will surely become dependent upon parish charity after her mother dies.”

“I doubt that will happen, with her niece marrying Frank Churchill next week. A gentleman who stands to inherit an estate the size of Enscombe will not forsake his wife’s aunt.”

Emma knew that Mr. Knightley spoke not from conviction of Frank Churchill’s reliability, but from his own principles: Because Mr. Knightley would never neglect a needy relation, he expected all gentlemen to demonstrate the same sense of duty. In fact, he had forfeited his own inde pendence to act rightly by Emma’s father. Upon their marriage, Mr. Knightley had graciously moved into the  house of Emma’s birth so that she need not abandon the invalid Mr. Wood-house or subject the old man to the trauma of leaving his lifelong home to live with them at Mr. Knightley’s more sizable estate, Don-well Abbey.


Though the distance was  slight— Hart.eld bordered Mr. Knightley’s  grounds— Mr. Wood house suffered from a nervous disposition and did not bear well change of any sort. The living arrangement left Donwell Abbey without its master in residence, and Emma appreciated the sacri.ce her husband had made on behalf of herself and her father.

The vicar and his wife, however,  were entirely capable of more sel.sh conduct, and therefore anticipated it in others. “The Eltons are convinced that once Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax wed and move so far away as Yorkshire, the Bates ladies will be forgotten,” Emma said. “Mrs. Elton is determined to make certain that Miss Bates becomes someone else’s responsibility and not the parish’s.”

To be speci.c, Mrs. Elton had proposed marrying off Miss Bates to any man— gentleman or  not— who would have her. Granted, .nding a husband for a woman of forty- odd years would prove a daunting enterprise, and Miss Bates’s situation was further challenged by the spinster’s propensity for endless chatter. Emma herself found Miss Bates’s trivial tidings and cheerful effusions tedious; she could scarcely imagine a husband willing to endure them day and night.

Mrs. Elton, however, had gone so far as to suggest an addlepated local farmer as the ideal candidate, and declared to Mr. Elton her intention of arranging the match. In that, the vicar’s wife had gone too far.

“She cannot be permitted to proceed,” Emma continued. “Not when I have the ability to arrange a superior establishment for Miss Bates.”

“You told me, Emma, after Harriet Smith married Robert Martin despite your interference, that you had given up matchmaking.”

“This is not matchmaking. It is—” She considered her words carefully, for there was no bluf.ng her husband. Mr. Knightley knew her better than did any other soul on earth. “It is merely taking advantage of an opportunity.”

“An opportunity to meddle.”

Now Emma found herself vexed not only at the Eltons, but at her “dear Mr. Knightley.” This latest was a slight  vexation— a tri.e, really. Well, perhaps more than a tri.e. But it was her husband’s fault for willfully misinterpreting her motives for the scheme she had spent all afternoon contemplating.

“An opportunity to show kindness towards someone to whom you yourself have said I ought to demonstrate greater generosity. You should be pleased that I have taken to heart your reproofs regarding my lack of consideration for Miss Bates, and that I wish to make amends for my previous neglect. Her situation is indeed pitiable. She has sacri.ced half her life to the care of her  near- deaf mother. Is she to spend her old age either alone in poverty, or with some  half- wit imposed upon her by Mrs. Elton?”

“We can guard Miss Bates from any maneuverings Mrs. Elton might undertake without your trying to orchestrate a match of your own.”

“Can we? Miss Bates is so appreciative of any attention or kindness shown her that even if she had reservations about the groom, she would wed him simply out of gratitude, or in deference to Mrs. Elton for arranging the marriage. If Miss Bates ever possessed enough quickness of mind to recognize an unfavorable situation when presented with one, years of deprivation have surely worn down her ability to resist it.”

Mr. Knightley could remember Miss Bates at a more carefree period of her  life— before her father, a former vicar of Highbury, had died. As a clergyman’s bene.ce made no provisions for surviving dependents, Mr. Bates’s widow and daughter had been left to shift as best they could on an income insuf.cient to support even one of them, let alone two, in moderate comfort. The pair, however, being of naturally content temperaments and possessing enough sense to live within their means, accepted their situation with grace, and made the best of it.

“Miss Bates never exhibited your cleverness, Emma, nor even an intellect as strong as her younger sister’s. Yet you will not meet a kinder- hearted soul in all Surrey. Leave her in peace.”

“Her good heart is precisely why I wish to perform a kindness for her in turn. You would merely save her from the evils of Mrs. Elton, whereas I hope to secure her a future happier than her present. Somewhere in England there must be a  gentleman— a good, decent gentleman, not merely the .rst unmarried commoner Mrs. Elton can manipulate— who can appreciate Miss Bates.”

“It would not be a kindness to introduce hopes that Miss Bates must have set aside long ago, only to have them once more disappointed.”

“Why do you assume they will be disappointed? She need not captivate the entire Polite World, merely a single man.” Ideally, one in possession of a good fortune. “And the celebration of her niece’s marriage to Frank Churchill will bring more new gentlemen to High-bury than I daresay this village has ever seen at once.”

Though the wedding would take place in London, where the bride had been raised, Frank and Jane would visit the village before removing to the Churchill estate in Yorkshire. What had initially been conceived as a small dinner party to receive the postnuptial  well- wishes of their Highbury friends had burgeoned into an elaborate affair once Mr. Weston, Frank’s father, began issuing invitations. Not only was every respectable family in the neighborhood to attend, but auld acquaintance must not be forgot.


Because Randalls, the Westons’ home, had but two spare bedrooms and the Crown Inn could not accommodate everybody, Donwell Abbey would host the affair and lodge many of the  out- of- town guests.

The venue had been Emma’s idea, motivated by her friendship with Mrs. Weston, Frank’s stepmother. Though Mr. Knightley acquiesced, he was not without uneasiness over the thought of visitors— many of them  strangers— occupying his  house in his absence. He and Emma, therefore, would stay at Donwell while Emma’s visiting sister and her family stayed with Mr. Wood house. Emma credited their newlywed status for her successful application on this point, for under few other circumstances could she imagine Mr. Knightley’s being persuaded to go so out of his way regarding an event that honored Frank Churchill. Mr. Knightley thought the young man  self- centered and more fortunate in his  relationships— especially his betrothal to Jane Fairfax— than he deserved.

His unexpected role as a host did, however, enable Mr. Knightley to perform a service for the Bates ladies. He proposed that Mrs. and Miss Bates also consider themselves sponsors of the gathering. Through his means, they would be able to give Jane a proper  send- off.

“This affair has already grown to answer more purposes than anyone originally intended,” Mr. Knightley said. “Now it is to serve as a promenade of suitors for your appraisal?”

“Is that not a tacit component of most social events? The difference is that this time, no one— including the lady  herself— will know that this gathering is, of sorts, a  coming- out ball. I shall be entirely discreet in my evaluations.”

“I do not think this wise. Even did I not harbor reservations about the presumption of attempting to .nd a husband for Miss Bates, one cannot learn much of use about a gentleman at a dinner party.”

“I disagree.”

“And should a man whom you judge suitable present himself, what course of action do you intend to pursue in consequence?”

Emma had not yet settled her mind as to that part of her plan. For the present, merely .nding a worthy object was challenge enough.


Excerpted from The Intrigue At Highbury by Carrie Bebris.

Copyright © 2010 by Carrie Bebris.

Published in March 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and

reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in

any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Meet the Author

Award-winning author Carrie Bebris holds a master's degree in English literature and is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. A Wisconsin native, she now resides in Ohio.

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Intrigue at Highbury 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
xuxuLM More than 1 year ago
Very childish. Not to be compared with other British writers. I was disappointed.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the fifth book in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy series, and the author keeps getting better with each one. For the Jane Austen fans among us, she brings some of Austen's favorite characters back to life, giving us a glimpse of what their lives might have been like after the end of Austen's novels. Not just Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, but other characters from Austen's novels appear in this series as well--in this book we are reintroduced to Emma after her marriage to Mr. Knightley. For the mystery fans among us, the story is a well plotted mystery that keeps you guessing not just whodunnit, but how and why. Altogether an good book with an "intriguing" setting and characters.
lam21 More than 1 year ago
I didn't think I would like these books but I do...I imagine it as an earlier version of the Thin Man with some of my favorite characters. I wonder what the author will do when she runs out of Austen characters. Never the less, I enjoyed them. It would be good for a book club to see how the readers would compare them to the original books.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
While Mr. Darcy and his wife Elizbath are driving in their coach, they see on the side of the road a young woman who starts screaming. They stop to offer help. While on the carriage a light blows out and a raven screams scaring the servants. The young woman who says she is Miss Jones vanishes. The Darcys return to their coach to find their two servants unconscious and Mr. Darcy's christening gown and his mother's ring gone. They were going to give them to his cousin, but instead report the theft to the magistrate Mr. Knightly. The magistrate and his wife Emma are having problems too. They are sponsoring a wedding dinner for Mr. Frank Churchill and his new bride Jane when his adopted father Edger dies. After Knightly meets the Darcys and learns he has solved several mysteries (see The Matter At Mansfield, Pride And Prescience, NORTH By Northanger, and Suspense And Sensibility) , he confesses he never liked Frank. As a magistrate he can not be objective so he asks Mr. Darcy to help him investigate the suspicious death which the Darcy's agree to do. They learn Edgar died from belladonna poisoning. As the Darcy's looks into the homicide, they also believe they can recover what was taken from them because they think the thief is still in the area. As more poisonings occur, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy focus on stopping a killer before others die. The latest Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery is superb giving readers a look at what Jane Austen's England looked like. The audience will be shocked to realize that even intelligent people like the Darcys and the Knightleys are prejudicial against gypsies; all four believe that if a gypsy is in the neighborhood when a crime occurs the culprit is known even without any witness to the felony. The whodunit and why are very complex; with many suspects having motives as the reader and the lead quartet struggle to decide who is the murderer. Harriet Klausner