Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage to the author of Pride and Prejudice from MWA Grand Master James, best known for her Adam Dalgliesh detective series (The Private Patient, etc.). In the autumn of 1803, six years after the events that closed Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Darcy, the happily married mistress of Pemberley House, is preparing for Lady Anne's annual ball, "regarded by the county as the most important social event of the year." Alas, the evening before the ball, Elizabeth's sister Lydia, who married the feckless Wickham, bursts into the house to announce that Captain Denny, a militia officer, has shot her husband dead in the woodland on the estate. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who purists may note behaves inconsistently with Austen's original, head out in a chaise to investigate. Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets, not least of them in the august Darcy family. In contrast to Pride and Prejudice, where emotion is typically conveyed through indirect speech, characters are much more open about their feelings, giving a contemporary ring to James's pleasing and agreeable sequel. 300,000 first printing. Agent: Carol Heaton, Greene & Heaton Ltd.
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Yes, that's right: Now that she's made her farewells to Adam Dalgliesh (The Private Patient, 2008, etc.), Baroness James has turned to a Jane Austen sequel. Six years after the marriage that ended Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet, are on the eve of giving their annual Lady Anne's Ball when their preparations are complicated first by intimations that Darcy's sister Georgiana is being courted by both her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and rising young lawyer Henry Alveston, then by the Colonel's sudden decision to take his horse for a solitary late-night ride and finally and most disastrously by the unexpected, unwanted arrival of Lizzy's sister Lydia. Bursting from her coach, Lydia shrieks her fears that her husband, Lt. George Wickham, has been murdered by his friend Capt. Martin Denny, whom he followed into the wood when Denny abruptly insisted on abandoning the coach carrying them to Pemberley. In fact it looks very much the other way around: Denny is the one who's dead, and Wickham, bending over his body, blurts out that he killed him. Readers of Pride and Prejudice know that Wickham is a thorough scoundrel, but can he really have murdered his only friend? His averrals that he meant only that his quarrel with Denny sent him out into the wood, where he met his death at unknown hands, don't impress the jurors at the coroner's inquest or the trial that follows. Most of these developments, cloaked in a pitch-perfect likeness of Austen's prose, are ceremonious but pedestrian. The final working-out, however, shows all James' customary ingenuity. The murder story allows only flashes of Austenian wit, and Lizzy is sadly eclipsed by Darcy. But the stylistic pastiche is remarkably accomplished, and it's nice to get brief updates on certain cast members of Persuasion and Emma as a bonus.
While many writers have composed sequels to the various Austen masterpieces, James manages to preserve the flavor of Pride and Prejudice while also creating a fairly good whodunit…This is a novel one reads for its charm, for the chance to revisit some favorite characters, for the ingenious way James reworksor resolvesold elements from Austen…It is a solidly entertaining period mystery and a major treat for any fan of Jane Austen.
The Washington Post
[James's] innovation has been to transplant the dramatis personae from Austen into her own suspenseful universe, preserving their likenesses and life force…The greatest pleasure of this novel is its unforced, effortless, effective voice. James hasn't written in florid cod-Regency whorls, the overblown language other mimics so often employ. Not infrequently, while reading Death Comes to Pemberley, one succumbs to the impression that it is Austen herself at the keyboard.
The New York Times Book Review
“A magnificent novel. . . . Incomparably perfect.” —USA Today
“A glorious plum pudding of a whodunit.” —NPR, Fresh Air
“The queen of mystery has taken on the queen of literature, [and] the combination sings. . . . [James’] elegance and sly wit are in top form.” —The Plain Dealer
“The greatest pleasure of this novel is its unforced, effortless, effective voice… Not infrequently . . . one succumbs to the impression that it is Austen herself at the keyboard.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[James] is the greatest living writer of British crime fiction, and probably that genre’s most talented practitioner ever.” —The New York Times
“A novel of manners par excellence.” —The Boston Globe
“A major treat for any fan of Jane Austen . . . [and] a solidly entertaining period mystery.” —The Washington Post
“A novel of dark intrigue. . . . [which] Ms. James presents with informed assurance and in fine period detail.” —The Wall Street Journal
“If you appreciate mysteries as well as the Mighty Jane, this pleasant entertainment will do nicely. . . . It is a universe of dark meanings [and] hidden relationships.” —Los Angeles Times
“James rises well above the ever-growing pack of Austen-inspired authors, not only for her intimate familiarity with Austen’s work, but for her faultless replication of time, place and, most notably, Austen’s trademark writing style.” —Newark Star-Ledger
“With well-laid clues, James weaves a credible tale with a satisfying conclusion. . . . She stamps this enticing blend of two authors’ minds with her formidable intelligence and the generosity of spirit that has marked all her work.” —Richmond Times Dispatch
“Dazzling . . . Meticulously plotted . . . In my view Death Comes to Pemberley is as good as anything P.D. James has written and that is very high praise indeed… Long may she continue to delight and surprise us.” —Simon Brett, Sunday Express
“Brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, Death Comes to Pemberley is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James’s imagination.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“James takes Pride and Prejudice to places it never dreamed of, and does so with a charm that will beguile even the most demanding Janeite.” —London Evening Standard
“The final working-out shows all James’s customary ingenuity. . . . The stylistic pastiche is remarkably accomplished.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A pleasing and agreeable sequel… Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage… Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets.” —Publishers Weekly
“Satisfying. . . . [James is] an impeccable stylist and a psychological ins-and-outs maven.” —The Huffington Post