JANE AND THE CANTERBURY TALE
Named one of the "9 Mysteries Every Thinking Woman Should Read" by Oprah Winfrey
Three years ago, after a night of reckless gaming, Curzon Fiske fled England for an uncertain future in India, leaving scandal and prodigious debts behind him. When news of his death from fever in Ceylon reached his raven-haired wife, Adelaide, she mourned him for a time—then quietly restored her damaged reputation.
Now Adelaide is at the altar again, her groom a soldier on the Marquis of Wellington's staff. The prospects seem bright for one of the most notorious women in Kent—until Jane Austen discovers a corpse on the ancient Pilgrim's Way that runs through her brother Edward's estate. Why is the dead stranger dressed as a pilgrim, and who wrote the summons he carries in his pocket? Who is the aristocrat masquerading as a sailor? And why will none of Adelaide's friends reveal Curzon Fiske's final wager, the night he abandoned his wife? As Chief Magistrate for Canterbury, Edward is forced to investigate, with Jane as his unwilling assistant. From the shooting parties and balls of her wellborn neighbors, to the grim and airless cells of Canterbury gaol, Jane leaves no stone unturned. When a second corpse appears beside the ancient Pilgrim's Way, Jane has no choice but to confront a murderer...lest the next corpse be her own....
Read the first chapter!
"The pitch-perfect historical details, the believably Austenian prose and the opportunity to pretend that this story actually was the life of this delightful author couldn't be more addictive."
"Set in 1813, Barron's excellent 11th Jane Austen mystery (after 2010's Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron) takes Jane to Kent for a lengthy stay with her brother Edward at his estate. When the body of a man, shot in the chest, is found on the Pilgrim's Way that dates to Chaucer's time, Edward, as first magistrate for the area, must investigate. Fortunately, he has his keenly observant sister to assist. As the case progresses, Edward fears that it may be "my duty to hang one of my friends before very long." Janeites will be pleased to see that Barron highlights the Austen family dynamics rather than the peccadilloes of the Regency's most privileged stratum, as she did in the previous two installments. They'll also enjoy tracing the parallels between the many distinctive characters and the inspiration for them in Austen's originals."
"The joys of a marriage are eclipsed by the horror of murder...Barron writes charmingly in the style of Jane Austen while providing a leisurely exploration of murder and local society in a gothic tale that's more than equal to Jane's earlier cases."
"Barron channels Jane Austen beautifully in this charming series...Austen fans, cozy lovers, and historical-mystery readers will all enjoy this delightful story."
"... lady Jane Austen is back. Jane Austen, of course, is a literary figure of no small importance, and in the hands of Denver's Stephanie Barron (nee Francine Matthews), she is also a sleuth, more than a match for any jackanape she encounters in Regency England... Barron's Jane Austen whodunits are a double treat. First is the plot itself, complex and challenging, a literary mystery that eschews gumshoes and boozy gun molls in favor of gentility and manners. Second is the writing, which is as satisfying as an Austen novel itself. The words, the phrases, the folkways of Regency England are so real that you wonder whether if Barron goes home at night and says such things to her husband."
"Though the tale has dire consequences for many involved and is an emotional time for everyone, Jane herself, with her cool and analytical voice narrates the whole in her Journal. Clues abound, but not all point unerringly at the truth. Also, there are occasional editorial footnotes that may or may not relate to real instances from Jane Austen's life. Certainly her family members are real, but it's fun to speculate about other characters. Jane and the Canterbury Tale is a fast, engaging read at only 300 or so pages. It follows ten earlier mysteries that, for the most part, stand well on their own, but read one, and you'll want more. And you don't have to be an Austen fan to enjoy them."
Stephanie Barron also writes contemporary thrillers under the name Francine Mathews. Click here for more information.
All content copyright 2011, Stephanie Barron/Francine Mathews.