I was able to review the final book in Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mystery series thanks to Austenprose PR. Read on to hear how this long-running series wrapped up!
March 1817: As winter turns to spring, Jane Austen’s health is in slow decline, and threatens to cease progress on her latest manuscript. But when her nephew Edward brings chilling news of a death at his former school, Winchester College, not even her debilitating ailment can keep Jane from seeking out the truth. Arthur Prendergast, a senior pupil at the prestigious all-boys’ boarding school, has been found dead in a culvert near the schoolgrounds—and in the pocket of his drenched waistcoat is an incriminating note penned by the young William Heathcote, the son of Jane’s dear friend Elizabeth. Winchester College is a world unto itself, with its own language and rites of passage, cruel hazing and dangerous pranks. Can Jane clear William’s name before her illness gets the better of her?
Over the course of fourteen previous novels in the critically acclaimed Being a Jane Austen Mystery series, Stephanie Barron has won the hearts of thousands of fans—crime fiction aficionados and Janeites alike—with her tricky plotting and breathtaking evocation of Austen’s voice. Now, she brings Jane’s final season—and final murder investigation—to brilliant, poignant life in this unforgettable conclusion.
How do you wrap up a beloved and long-running series, especially when it involves bringing the story of your heroine to a poignant close? Once again, Stephanie Barron demonstrates her mastery of both the mystery genre and the mannerisms of Austen’s time.
Readers who have followed the series likely already know that Jane Austen’s health has been declining over the course of the books, as it did in her real life. Despite this, Jane continues on, using her quiet powers of observation and deduction to bring resolutions to cases. In this mystery, the reader is taken into the orbit of Winchester College, the prestigious boarding school attended by Edward, Jane’s nephew. The investigation of the murder of Edward’s classmate is the driving force of the mystery, as Jane fights against her own physical ailment to bring justice to the victim and clear the name of her friend’s son. The setting of Winchester is richly described and once again Barron does a detailed job of capturing the mannerisms of a certain social class of Britons in the Austen era.
What really makes Barron’s Jane Austen mystery series stand out from the many other Austen adaptations available is the careful research she has done in her exploration of Jane’s own letters and other, personal writings. This means that not only are the books engaging in their own right, but they are truly consistent with the time period they are set in and allow the reader to spend time with a beloved author and imagine Jane Austen’s life in a more vivid way. Though I am sad to see the series end, I eagerly await what Stephanie Barron does next!
“Poignant . . . Elicits deep emotion out of Jane’s struggles against her own mortality. This is a fitting send-off for a beautifully realized series.”— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Barron developed Jane’s narrative voice by reading Austen’s collected and published letters, and it is neither spoiler nor surprise to say that series readers will be sorry to say goodbye to Jane Austen, amateur sleuth.”— Booklist
“[Barron] has brilliantly combined authentic historical and biographical details with skillful plotting and a credible evocation of Austen’s wry, distinctive voice. She brings the English author’s final investigation to a poignant, unforgettable close. Fans of this historical series will not be disappointed.”— First Clue
Stephanie Barron is a graduate of Princeton and Stanford, where she received her
Masters in History as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow in the Humanities. Her
novel, THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN (Ballantine, January 22, 2019) traces the turbulent
career of Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill’s captivating American mother. Barron is
perhaps best known for the critically acclaimed Jane Austen Mystery Series, in which
the intrepid and witty author of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE details her secret detective
career in Regency England. A former intelligence analyst for the CIA, Stephanie—who
also writes under the name Francine Mathews—drew on her experience in the field of
espionage for such novels as JACK 1939, which The New Yorker described as “the
most deliciously high-concept thriller imaginable.” She lives and works in Denver, CO.
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