The ultimate fan fiction treat – one of fiction’s most famous authors, a Pride and Prejudice setting and an intriguing mystery! P. D. James has written over 20 books, many of which have been filmed for television (the Adam Dalgleish series for the BBC and PBS). She worked for 30 years in different government departments of the British Civil Service including the Police and Criminal Policy Departments of the British Home Office. She was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 and has received many awards for crime fiction writing.
Fortunately for all Jane Austen fans, she is a fellow Janeite and has turned her considerable talents to the characters in Austen’s most beloved work. The story starts in 1803, six years after the wedding of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. They are happily settled at Pemberley with two young sons and Charles and Jane Bingley are living nearby at an estate called Highmartin. Preparations are in full swing for their annual autumnal ball. The night before the ball, a carriage careens down the driveway and Lydia Wickham, Lizzy’s disgraced younger sister, emerges screaming that Wickham has been murdered in the Pemberley woods. Since Lydia and especially Wickham are banned from Pemberley, it takes some explanation as to how this came to be about. The peace and serenity of The Darcys’ lives are shattered as events unfold.
This is a cracking good mystery, with unexpected twists and turns around every corner. All our favorite P&P characters are present, either in person or correspondence. Darcy’s cousin, Col. Fitzwilliam plays an important part in the story and Georgiana, Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Reynolds, the Gardiners and even the Collins and Lady Catherine are all heard from.
Baroness James has written a lively prologue as a synopsis of the events in P&P for those unfortunate to have missed the enchanting experience of reading the original themselves. Her wonderful grasp of the 18th century dialogue would, I am sure, have been approved by our most esteemed Miss Austen. There is so much to recommend this book, both to mystery and Austen fans, that I urge you to put this on your hold list or even your Christmas list!