Archive for 'Crime/Mystery'

Suspense and Sensibility – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

This is 2nd book in the Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery series by Carrie Bebris. 

I’m glad to have finally read this one, I had to read this series out of order, which was no problem really, except that I was disappointed to have not been able to get Suspense and Sensibility immediately after I read Prescience and Prejudice.  I do like the way Carrie Bebris treats Jane Austen’s characters, especially Lizzy Darcy (nee Bennet).  Carrie’s Lizzy is exactly as I imagined her when reading Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Mr and Mrs Darcy find themselves embroiled in another deadly mystery.  This time it involves Lizzy’s beloved sister Kitty, who has been much improved since her removal from her sister Lydia’s influence.  Mrs Bennet persuades Mr and Mrs Darcy to introduce/chaperone Kitty at her first London season.   Lizzy and Kitty are delighted to meet an amiable, handsome young man Harry Dashwood, new owner of Norland estate,  Kitty and Harry are soon in love.  The Darcy family is delighted with the match, unlike Harry’s mother.  The selfish, self-serving wife of the late John Dashwood objects to Kitty’s lack of money and connections.  She does all she can to prevent Kitty usurping her as mistress of Norland. 

Whilst Mrs John Dashwood’s interference is damaging, it soon becomes the least of Kitty’s worries when her lovely Mr Dashwood undergoes a change of character.  With the wedding looming nearer, Harry seems to be enjoying his last day’s of freedom far too much and destroying his reputation and respectability along the way.  Mr and Mrs Darcy need to protect Kitty but with some loyalty left for their new friend Harry, they feel obligated to investigate the dramatic change of behaviour.  What could possibly make a man destroy his life when he about to embark on a marriage based on love?  With the aid of Harry’s sensible and loving relations, Mr Edward and Mrs Elinor Dashwood, the Darcy’s try to uncover the truth and save  Harry’s life.

I enjoy the Mr and Mrs Darcy Mysteries very much and am delighted that Carrie Bebris seems to be enjoying them so much that she’s still writing them.  She has just released The Intrigue at Highbury, which is on my bedstand right this minute.

Thank you Carrie Bebris.

Posted on 21 June '10 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

Murder at Mansfield Park – Book Review


by Lynn Shepherd

Prepare to throw away your preconceived idea about Mansfield Park (by Jane Austen) and its inhabitants because this novel will turn it on its head.  Fanny Price is not the conservative, gentle heroine we know from Austen’s Mansfield Park.  She is instead a conniving, heartless, selfish heiress.  She is the worst that money and indulgence can create. Since childhood, Fanny and Edmund Norris (yes Norris) have been promised to each other.  The Bertram and Norris families are determined to keep Fanny’s fortune in the family.  The Mansfield household is already precariously positioned when Henry and Mary Crawford – brother and sister – come to stay at the parsonage.  Their arrival creates fractures and a series of violent and tragic events that threaten to destroy the Park and the families within.    Charles Maddox, a London detective is brought in to unmask a murderer.

Lynn Shepherd… what courage… I salute you.  I admit to feeling a little miffed at you for meddling with Fanny Price, one of my favourite Austen characters.  I let out an audible groan when I read how awful she was going to be in your book.  To the credit of your pen though, it was not too much further in and I found myself happy with the wickedness of the wench.  With Fanny so deeply involved with her own self importance you took away our heroine but in her stead you skillfully rewrote Mary Crawford to fill the role and I soon loved her as I do Austen’s Fanny.   Not many Austen inspired novels have messed so much with the essence of the main heroine, but you had the courage to dethrone one and hand it to another… bravo.  

I enjoyed Murder at Mansfield Park very much and raced through to the end to see if my own sleuthing was correct.  As a devoted fan of both Jane Austen and Austen inspired fiction I hope you are planning another.

Thank you Lynn Shepherd.

Posted on 9 April '10 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

Jane and the Barque of Frailty – Book Review


by Stephanie Barron

ISBN-13: 9780553802269

Jane’s dream is coming true.  Her beloved novel Sense and Sensibility is to be published and she is in London overseeing its printing.  The task also allows her to visit with her brother Henry and sister-in-law Eliza.

Jane’s pleasure is soon tested when a Russian Princess dies close by Henry and Eliza’s home and they are drawn into the drama.  Jane’s only choice is to solve the mysteries surrounding the princess’s life and death.

Stephanie Barron takes us on a great ride and teaches us much about English society of that time.  I was fascinated by the Barque of Frailty who are known by many names, the Muslin Company, Birds of Paradise, Demi-reps or more familiar to us Courtesans.

This Austen inspired novel is quite different from most I’ve read and I’m determined to seek out more of the series.  I have to admit to being a little distracted with it at first, until I got used to the language.  Stephanie uses a lot of French terminology and I kept losing my stride each time I hit one.  My tip is if you don’t speak it, don’t try to read those bits.. just jump over them and you’ll have fun with it.

Once immersed in the story I found I obsessed till the end and only managed to predict a little of the resolution.   It was a great read Stephanie Barron.. thank you.

Posted on 2 October '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 3 Comments.

The Lost Symbol – Book Review


by Dan Brown

ISBN:  9780593054277

Published: 2009

Robert Langdon returns with another mystery to solve in The Lost Symbol.  His Sunday is disrupted by an urgent request from his dear friend, Peter Solomon, to fill in for an absent guest speaker at a Smithsonian Gala event that evening.  Peter, in his usual style, pulls out all stops, private jet and limousine, to get Robert to the Gala with no inconvenience.  Robert, however, is very inconvenienced when he arrives at the Capital Building to find no Gala event and no Peter Solomon waiting for him.  What he does find is a personal and gruesome ‘invitation’ to discover an ancient portal hidden in Washington DC .  If he does not accept the ‘invitation’ then his friend will die.

With the help of Peter Solomon’s sister Katherine and a few high ranking members of the Masonic Order, Robert has no choice but to do as the kidnapper demands and solve the riddles pointing to the location of the portal.

Dan Brown has created another nail-biting adventure for Robert Langdon and I was loathe to have to put it down for even the smallest domestic duty.  I can fully understand why his books cause such a sensation.  He mentions alchemy many times in this book and I believe, he, is an alchemist of sorts, with the way he seamlessly blends fact with fiction.  Choosing delicious, documented, legends and mysteries to solve, he weaves his magic and leaves you questioning what NOT to believe.  This is why his books are such a success.  It is hard to distinguish fact from fiction in a Dan Brown book.  He always leaves me desperate to research what parts of the story are fact.

Dan Brown, again, chooses to set his story within an exclusive organisation.  The Lost Symbol involves primarily, the Freemasons but also includes The Invisible College, the Office of Security, the Smithsonian Museum Support Centre and the Institute of Noetic Sciences.  You experience a sensation of descending or being immersed in these societies.  The science, theories, legends, artifacts, and rituals he offers up, are, like in his previous novels, great fonder for dinner party debates.

The fact, &/or fiction (you be the judge) he writes, is so facinating that I advise reading it in a quiet place where you can give it your full attention.  I don’t think The Lost Symbol has knocked off Angels and Demons or DaVinci Code as my favourites but I believe it is on a par with his other novels.  I found that I predicted results fairly early in the book but it didn’t take away from the ending because the explanations were fantastic and a surprise.

I loved The Lost Symbol and confidently recommend adding it to your bookshelf.

Posted on 23 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Reviews, Thriller. 1 Comment.

The Matters at Mansfield – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1847-3

There are some people you should never invite to a party. Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) and Mr and Mrs Darcy because scandel follows them and someone always turns up dead.  At least Miss Marple had the decency to look for her corpes in the newspaper.

Mr and Mrs Darcy are attending a ball the at the Fitzwilliams with Lady Catherine, Anne de Burgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam.  Lady Catherine is determined to find a suitably rich and titled match for her daughter Anne.  Anne, however has a different idea and has everyone scrambling when she elopes.  The drama unfolds at Mansfield Park and we get a glimpse of characters from Jane Austen’s classic.  Unfortunately we get only a glimpse and I was sad we didn’t see more of them.

It’s a great series and this book just as good as the others.

Posted on 15 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 5 Comments.

Pride and Prescience – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

ISBN- 13: 9780765318435

Published: 2004

This is the first in the ‘A Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery’ series, but the second I’ve read.  I read the 3rd book (North by Northanger) first and was hoping that wasn’t like reading the back of a book and with relief it wasn’t.  Although set chronologically, each book, it seems, can stand alone.

This book starts at the joint wedding breakfast of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet.  The couples are a little miffed and the wedding, slightly married, by the sudden announcement of Caroline Bingley’s (Charles’ sister) engagement and intention to marry the following Wednesday.  However, the behaviour is true to form of the sharp tongued, attention seeking sister.  The newly married couples dutifully alter their own plans to accommodate Caroline’s marriage to the charming, rich American, Mr Parrish.

If the family were shocked at the suddenness of Caroline’s engagement, they were more shocked to note the sudden change in behaviour after her marriage.  Her current state of mind is so strange and dangerous to herself and those around her that the family would happily see her return to her normal unpleasant self.

While trying to care for their sister, the Bingleys themselves, start to experience a series of unfortunate events they are lucky to escape from with their lives.  The whole Bingley family appears to be a target for some unknown reason and the Darcys determine to find out who is behind it.

Combine a mystery, madness, a little occult, murder, Austen’s Elizabeth and Mr Darcy (let me catch me breath) and you have a fun book that I read from start to finish in one sitting.

I’m sure Miss Austen would approve.

Posted on 6 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

North by Northanger – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

ISBN: 0-765-31410-X

Published: 2006

A Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery

I think my Austen collection is about to expand again.  I’m delighted by how good so many of the Austen inspired novels are.  Carrie Bebris has done a wonderful job of representing the Austen world.  Add Austen to the pot, throw in some Agatha Christie and you have a great recipe for an entertaining series.

North by Northanger – A Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery is set 1 year after Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding.  Elizabeth is still finding her feet as the new mistress of Pemberley.  Elizabeth is feeling unsettled by the lasting  influence of its last mistress and is tentative about making changes.

Lady Anne, Darcy’s mother, tragically died giving birth to Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana.  Between Darcy and Georgiana she endured many miscarriages and stillborns.  Now Elizabeth is pregnant and although happy, her and Darcy are nervous.

While moving a desk, a letter from Lady Anne is discovered.   Not a strange thing to find as it was Lady Anne’s desk being moved and yet it was strange because the letter was addressed to Elizabeth as the next mistress of Pemberley.  The letter, written while she was in labour and just before she died, was hastily composed.   Lady Anne was distressed by misplacing something she treasured and felt she needed to ensure the safe delivery of her baby.  She begs Elizabeth to find it and have it herself for when she delivers her own babies.  Now Darcy and Elizabeth have a mystery to solve as Lady Anne didn’t say what the item was.

An unexpected invitation to visit Northanger Abbey arrives.  Frederick Tilney of Northanger explains that their mothers had been close friends and he wished to know Mr and Mrs Darcy.  Their visit proves to be disastrous and threatens Darcy’s name, reputation and freedom.

When stress is the last thing that Elizabeth needs, their blessed life is thrown into turmoil.

Carrie Bebris writes a wonderful tale that combines Jane Austen with Agatha Christie’s mystery and I loved it.  The characters are so familiar that it feels like they have stepped straight out of Austen’s books and although I guessed the culprits early on I was still surprised as other mysteries were solved.

Now I have only to look forward to reading the other novels in this series.

Thank you Carrie Bebris

Posted on 2 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 4 Comments.