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Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor

Stephanie Barron's Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor

is the first novel of the Jane Austen Mystery series. Jane attends the wedding of her friend, Isobel Payne at the beginning of the novel. The wedding is by no means normal though, as the groom dies directly after it. He is an older, wealthy gentleman and it turns out that Isobel did not actually love him. Instead she was interested in his nephew, Fitzroy Payne. After her husband's death Isobel receives a letter that accuses Fitzroy and herself of adultery and murder, someone has noticed their feelings. Isobel is terrified of these accusations and asks her friend, Jane Austen, to help her. Jane becomes quite the sleuth, sneakily asking people questions and taking items off dead people to answer questions. She runs into several problems with this though, as it seems that everyone who can say anything about the supposed murder is also murdered.

I was little skeptical about this one, the idea of Jane Austen as a detective was interesting to me but I could help but wondering how it could be done. Barron does it, pretty much. I felt satisfied by this book, although there were times that I couldn't help but chuckle a bit. When Jane reaches up the murdered maid's dress to pull out a cryptic letter I couldn't help but imagine blood getting all over her gown. I'm not sure I really felt like the main character was so much Jane Austen as I felt she was a Victorian woman. The language worked well though, it was a great combination of Austen language and detective novel.

If you are a Jane Austen fan I think you will enjoy the novel, which is really the main question we ask when we read these things, right? If you are not a Jane Austen fan, well then I don't really know why you would want to read this and I also want to know what is wrong with you? (Just kidding, I actually wasn't a Jane Austen fan until this year. I actually kind of hated her, shhh).

Pub. Date: May 2008

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Format: Paperback, 304pp

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Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor + TIME