Really, gentle reader, there are limits. When mystery grande dame P. D. James felt the mantle of Jane Austen fall on her shoulders, why didn’t she simply shrug it off? Instead, she has produced a straight-faced mystery—no zombies—in which a murdered body is found on the grounds of Darcy and Elizabeth’s stately home, Pemberley. James places a template of Austen characters and Austen-like language over a traditional mystery plot and even takes on the role of the omniscient Austen narrator herself. The mystery is set in 1803, six years after the wedding of Elizabeth and Darcy, with ample space given to catching us up on the recent doings of the Bennet family. On the mystery side, there’s plenty of action, from the discovery of Captain Denny’s body, through a trial, assorted deceptions and mix-ups, and love affairs. Unfortunately, though, if this is meant as an homage, it’s a pretty weak cup of tea, starting with a greatly diluted version of Austen’s famous “truth universally acknowledged” opening. James’ many fans will be pleased to see any kind of new book from the 91-year-old author, but discriminating Austen devotees are unlikely to appreciate the move from social comedy to murder. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This late addition to Knopf’s winter list will require some last-minute marketing, but it has two very bankable Englishwomen on its side: Austen and James. --Connie Fletcher
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#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
"A sparkling curio that will appeal to both Janeites and Jamesites."
"Jane Austen herself would have applauded."
"A great joint achievement, and a joyous read."
"Death Comes to Pemberley is as good as anything P. D. James has written and that is very high praise indeed."
"A delight. It reads happily and, as ever in P. D. James's novels, the settings are beautifully and thoroughly imagined, the descriptions and exact. I can't think that it could be better done."
"Brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, Death Comes to Pemberley is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James's imagination."
--"The Sunday Times"
"Of all the other pens to take up where Austen left off, P. D. James's is head and shoulders above the rest."