Jane and the Wandering Eye (Jane Austen Series #3)

Jane and the Wandering Eye (Jane Austen Series #3)

by Stephanie Barron

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553578171
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/03/1998
Series: Jane Austen Series , #3
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 200,930
Product dimensions: 4.06(w) x 6.94(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Stephanie Barron is the author of eight previous Jane Austen mysteries. She lives in Colorado, where she is at work on the next Jane Austen mystery.

Read an Excerpt

"'If it were done,'" he began, in the hushed tone and slow pace appropriate to murderous thought, turning before our eyes like a cage'd tiger--

"when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly. If th' assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease, success; that but this blow--"

(A long declining wail, as though uttered from within a tomb.)

"I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself,
And falls on th' other--"

The last words, whispered and yet utterly distinct, came like the gentle slip of leaves from a November bough; and his lips had scarcely ceased to move, when the applause that was his due rang forth in strenuous tumult. Every throat swelled with praise, and the madness of cheering all but blotted out Hugh Conyngham's gentler thanks. The actor's brilliant eye, and the fever of his cheek, spoke with firmer eloquence, however; and I read in his looks a grateful understanding. For such an one, as yet so young in the life of the stage--for he can be but thirty--to take his place among the Garricks and the Kembles, if only in the estimation as yet of Bath, must seem like glory, indeed.

The cheering did not cease; the clapping hands acquired a measured beat; and it seemed as though Hugh Conyngham must bow to the desire of the guests, and speak on--when the tenor of the hoarsest cries declined by an octave, and gained a sudden accent of horror and dismay. The acutest attention o'erspread the actor's face; the crowd's mood changed as perceptibly as though an icy draught had blown out the blazing fire--and I turned, to perceive a stumbling knot of bodies caught in an anteroom doorway.

"I fear some part of the Duchess's acquaintance are but too disguised in truth," I said to Anne Lefroy. "We had best make ouradieux, and summon the chairs, before this rout turns to a riot."

"Nonsense. It is nothing but a bit of theatre--the stabbing of Duncan, I suspect." She stepped towards the anteroom with the others, and protesting, I followed.

Craning on tip-toe, the better to discern the man who had stolen Hugh Conyngham's scene, I comprehended a small salon to one side of the massive drawing-room, done up in Prussian blue picked out with gold. Its double doors were thrown wide and obscured by a press of bodies. The late Duke's reception room?--Or perhaps a study? But all such observations were fleeting, for my eyes were fixed on one alone--the mettlesome Knight, my erstwhile dance partner. He strained in the grip of two stout fellows, and his reddened countenance worked in horror.

At his feet lay the White Harlequin.

The face still wore its mask, but behind the lozenge of velvet the eyes were sightless and staring. Blood pooled slowly on the Duchess's Savonnerie carpet, as though the man called Portal had wished to exchange his white-patterned stuff for the rival Harlequin's red.

I raised one hand to my lips to stifle a scream, and with the other, gripped Madam Lefroy's arm. She tensed beneath my fingers.

A woman brushed past me with a flash of black curls, and fell in supplication at the Harlequin's feet. The Medusa, Maria Conyngham. With shaking fingers she snatched at the dead man's mask.

"Richard! Oh, Richard!"

The voice of a bereaved mother, or an abandoned wife--the soul of a woman destroyed by grief. The crowd parted to admit Hugh Conyngham to the hushed circle, and he knelt at his sister's side.

"Dead!" she cried, and fell weeping on his breast.


The voice, clear and sweet as a child's, was the Lady Desdemona's. She stood just behind Hugh Conyngham, on the edge of the crowd. The pallor of her face was extreme. But in her composure and the intensity of her dark grey eyes I saw something of the fierce Trowbridge will. Without even a look for the murdered Harlequin, she crossed to the Knight.

"Kinny, what have you done?"

"Nothing, 'Mona! I swear it! I found him just as you see!"

"Then show me what is in your hand!"

Her brother started, and released the thing, which fell clattering to the parquet floor--a bloody knife, chased in gold, as curved and deadly as a scimitar.

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Jane and the Wandering Eye (Jane Austen Series #3) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in the midst of reading the book right now, and as much as I enjoy taking a romp into Jane Austen's world as much as the next gal, I have to say / ask, as a keeper of journals, does anyone really write dialogue in their personal journals? With that said, at times it also seems that Barron forces frilly conversation between her characters. I realize it was a different time and place, but I just can't imagine people actually talking the way she depicts them. I shall venture forth but wanted to throw this out there, curious to hear what others might think.
laurscartelli on LibraryThing 20 days ago
This was the first of the series that I felt was less-solidly built. I think it had a lot to do with its locale. While the first mystery takes place at a manor and the second in a small sea-side community (both mean a small cast of characters and easy-to-follow plots), Jane and the Wandering Eye takes place in Bath (this means a large cast of characters, constantly shifting in and out of town). Well-versed Janeites will know, of course, that Austen hated living in Bath, a trait that she gave her final heroine, Anne Elliot. She missed the country, and it shows in Barron's version of her.But the cast of this novel is too large. In its scope, it's more like "Law & Order" and less like "Columbo"...not that I don't love "Law & Order," but you know how sometimes they introduce characters at minute 10 and minute 25 (right around introducing the person who actually did it) and by the time you get to their testimony in minute 51, you can't remember who the hell they are? That's how this plot felt. Though the story did deal quite a bit with actors and the theatre, which is something that always makes me perk up a bit (especially on "Law & Order"!) Lord Harold, who appears in the previous two books, is present yet again, but as it is his direction that leads to Austen's involvement in the plot-thickening, as it were, the whole thing seems a little convoluted.As for the wandering eye of the title, I was kind of hoping it would be about those paintings where the eyes follow you around the room? You know, like the Mona Lisa or those paintings in the Haunted Mansion. But actually it's about eye portraits of the eighteenth century - instead of miniatures of a lover's face or torso (think Wickham's/Darcy's miniatures in Pride & Prejudice), artists would do portraits of just someone's eye in the same size, and then the painting would be set in a locket or a watch or a brooch....seriously, how creepy can we get here?That's like the eighteenth-century version of creepy Skype-ing. Very digital get down. "Oh, Lord so-and-so I'm so very erotically to always have this painting of your eye close to my heart." Gross. No wonder none Austen's books have crap like that - it's disturbing! I mean, Captain Benwick's miniature likeness being drawn up for Fanny Harville is one thing. That's like keeping a photo of a loved one in your wallet (so I guess his then having the painting re-set and engraved for Louisa Musgrove...that'd be like stealing from someone's wallet...?), but just an eye? Creepy. Barron handles the creepiness tolerably and assigns the owners of such tokens with a decent amount of both validity and eccentricity.But while she succeeds there, she seems to fail in Lord Harold. Maybe it's the romantic in me, but the stop-and-start of his emotions is too much. Isn't Bath busy enough without the added ruckus? I'm hoping the next novel (Jane and the Genius of the Place is a little less crowded (based on the fact that we're moving chronologically, and the fact that I know Austen lived in Bath until 1805, and on the fact that Wandering Eye takes place in December 1804, I have reason to hope that we may be granted a reprieve from that awful city).
Romonko on LibraryThing 20 days ago
I love Regency and Victorian mystery series, and I thought I'd read most of the ones of any note, and then I discovered the Jane Austin Mystery series. I was extremely happy to find another series with well-drawn Regency characters and wonderful plotting. The idea of Jane Austen as sleuth is not that far-fetched since she was such an intelligent woman. Ms. Barron does a fine job of imitating Miss Austen's writing style, and she captures her personality very well. This is the third book in the series. It is set around Christmas time 1804, and is set in Bath where Miss Austen lived for a few years after her father left the ministry. There are plenty of wonderful period details and snippets of information in the footnotes that bring this period to life. Jane is involved with Lord Harold again as they try to track a murderer. The murder occurs at a masquerade ball in the Lord Harold's aunt's house. Delicious!
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing 20 days ago
Ms. Barron does such a masterful job of combining real events with her fictional murder-mysteries. I like the character that she has created in Jane - despite her family's disapproval, Jane persists in keeping company with Lord Trowbridge in their combined attempt to find the real killer. Lots of false leads and multiple possibilities.
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bicoastal More than 1 year ago
As the series moves from book to book they get better and better
ladybugKY More than 1 year ago
Fantastic! Stephanie Barron is a remarkable writer, and being a Jane Austen fan, I couldn't wait to read the Jane Austen Mystery series. I have not been disappointed!
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