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Jane and the Genius of the Place: Being the Fourth Jane Austen Mystery (Being A Jane Austen Mystery) [Kindle Edition]

Stephanie Barron
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In three highly diverting mysteries, Jane Austen has shown herself a clever hand at unraveling the deadly knots woven by the unscrupulous.  Now, in her latest engrossing adventure, Jane is called upon to solve a shattering crime that may begin and end in one man's heart--or encompass the fate of an entire nation.

In the waning days of summer, Jane Austen is off to the Canterbury Races, where the rich and fashionable go to gamble away their fortunes.  It is an atmosphere ripe for scandal.  But even Jane is unprepared for the shocking drama that ensues when a raven-haired wanton in a scarlet riding habit takes center stage.  She is Françoise Grey, a flamboyant French beauty who has cast a spell over the gentlemen of Kent...and her unbridled behavior at the races invites the most scandalous speculation.

What can Mrs. Grey be thinking, Jane wonders, to so brazenly strike a gentleman with her whip? And what recklessness then spurs her to leap the rail on her fleet black horse and join the race? Only hours after Mrs. Grey has departed the race grounds in triumph will Jane realize the full import of her questions.  For in a shabby chaise less than a hundred feet from where Jane sat, the impossible is revealed: Mrs. Grey's lifeless body, gruesomely strangled, her ruby riding habit nowhere to be found.

As those around her rush to arrest the owner of the chaise--a known scoundrel with eyes for Françoise--Jane looks further afield to find a number of others behaving oddly, including the dashing military man caught rifling through the dead woman's desk, the widower who does not appear to be grieving, and the shy governess curiously overpowered by the horror of the Frenchwoman's death.

As rumors spread like wildfire that Napoleon's fleet is bound for Kent, Jane begins to suspect that Françoise Grey's murder was an act of war rather than a crime of passion.  The peaceful fields of Kent have become a very dangerous place...and Jane's thirst for justice may exact the steepest price of all--her life.

Deliciously sinister and splendidly wrought, Jane and the Genius of the Place is a stylish puzzler that only the incomparable Jane Austen could hope to crack.  And in her capable hands, the solving of it is a pleasure to watch.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Serious scholars might disagree, but it seems to at least one amateur Austenite that Stephanie Barron has captured Jane Austen's voice perfectly in her scrupulously researched and scrumptuously written mysteries starring the celebrated English novelist. "There are not many uses for a baronet's daughter, but the steady management of a gentleman's household may safely be described as one of them," Barron writes in the fourth book in this remarkable series, a line that could have been plucked from anywhere in the actual canon. Jane is talking about her sister-in-law Elizabeth, who runs her brother Edward's Godmersham estate in Kent. It's here that Jane comes for a visit in the summer of 1805--and gets caught up not only in a murder mystery but the planned invasion of England by Napoleon, which ended in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Austen, of course, had all the qualities of a good detective: the superb attention to detail, fervid imagination, and salty disdain for pretension. Barron makes excellent use of these attributes, plopping Jane Poirot-like into the middle of a crime at the Canterbury Races, then surrounding her with mysterious and possibly sinister figures involved in aiding or thwarting Napoleon's plans.

The writing, as stylized as it is ("There is nothing like the country for the rapid communication of what is dreadful"), never gets in the way of Barron's carefully plotted story, and in the end most readers will find they've managed to satisfy their appetites both for Austen and for mystery. First-timers will be delighted to hear that the three earlier books in Barron's series (Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, Jane and the Man of the Cloth, and Jane and the Wandering Eye) are available in paperback. --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

In this diverting but rather labored installment in Barron's popular Jane Austen mystery series (Jane and the Wandering Eye, 1997, etc.), Barron opens the drawing rooms to political winds, as Jane tackles a murder with possible links to Napoleon's threatened invasion of the English coastline. Sojourning in Kent at the lavish estate of her brother Neddie and his wife, Lizzy, Jane attends the Canterbury Races, where she witnesses a bizarre series of events. A French-born seductress named Francoise Grey strikes an unknown gentleman with her whip; after the race, Mrs. Grey dramatically drives off and, later, her corpse, "quite devoid of her scarlet [riding] habit," is found back on the racegrounds in the chaise of scoundrel Denys Collingforth. All of Kent clamors for Neddie, a Justice of the Peace, to arrest Collingforth, but Jane persuades him to investigate further. As the town prepares for evacuation, Jane and Neddie interrogate sundry suspicious characters, including the widowed Valentine Grey, a shadowy banker whose professed ignorance of his late wife's adultery rings false; the unctuous Comte de Penfleur, Mrs. Grey's relative and possible lover; and Anne Sharpe, the Austen family's governess, whose distress at the death is unaccountably extreme. Once again, Barron artfully replicates Austen's voice, sketches several delightful portraits (especially of the elegant and playful Lizzy) and dazzles her audience with period details. But the plot is both static and convoluted, and the revelation of the murderer is overburdened with historical significance, a far cry from the real Jane Austen's light style. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 567 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (January 16, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001QA4SI8
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,940 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So What If She's Not Really Jane Austen? July 6, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I'm surprised by the number of readers of this series (not so much for this book as the earlier ones) who fault Barron for not being Austen. None of us are Copernicus either, but we may still revolve around the sun. To those critics I am inspired to paraphrase the little Comtesse to Cassandra: "La, you are such a stick!" Barron's series is imaginative in its premise, and engaging in its execution. I love every book and look forward to the next, regretting only that a full-fledged romance between Jane and Lord Harold is quite literally impossible.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but over-transparent July 15, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The style is fabulous, the footnotes lend that authentic air, but unfortunately the means and the culprit are all too transparent in Jane Austen's fourth outing as a detective. Familiar characters from the first three books put in appearances, and as a whole are well-drawn (although with nine kids in the house I'd like to at least know who they all are...). The murder here is more gruesome than some of the earlier ones, but let's face it, as soon as the body is discovered you know how the trick was played, and a certain other scene, related by a jealous would-be suitor, lays the whole thing open. I spent the last two hundred pages or so enjoying the writing but thinking "Get a clue!" I'd recommend any of the others over this one, but for those (like me) who tend to collect an entire series no matter what, it's not a waste of money by any means. At the very least, you get to exult in how smart you are, which is always fun, right? As an aside, the landscaping descriptions are great; even for those who haven't traveled to Canterbury (which is probably most people) it's a cinch to close your eyes and visualize the countryside.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but less than genius February 9, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the fourth novel in Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mystery series. Having read the previous three, I already knew what to expect. Barron has a knack for imitating the style of Austen's day and shows a vast array of study into the lifestyles of Austen's time. The fourth novel in the series proves Jane to be as stalwart a detective as ever.

While Jane visits her brother's home of Godmersham, she is inevitably caught up in the tragic events that unfold in Kent. With the news of a possible French invasion looming on the horizon, a high-spirited French woman is found murdered at the horse races. Naturally, suspicion falls on the men who were entangled in her web, and her character and affairs with these men are called into question. But the detective side of Jane suspects that the foul play was due to political motives rather than jealous passions.

Barron introduces a wide cast of characters and suspects, and fully fleshes them out as Jane endeavors to solve another mystery. The novel moves quickly due to Jane's 'journaling' of events, even if at times the story is predictable. "Jane and the Genius of the Place" is a worthy addition and homage to Austen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Genius of the Book May 22, 2000
By Roberta
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Having just finished reading this book, I find myself wanting more. I felt lost after closing the book and missed Barron's characters, which grow on the reader with time. Although this book was harder to "get into to", it all came together in the end, albeit somewhat confusingly.
I would definately say this book in the Jane Austen Mystery series was more difficult to follow. Others who have read this one have agreed with me in that the characters are introduced briefly and quickly. The setting could be described a bit more too.
Overall, this work of Barron's is fun and interesting to read. I prefer her first novel more, as it seems a little more gentler and subtle. With this, the fourth in the series, one cannot help becoming attached to the main characters.
Stephanie Barron does justice to the time period and the speech of the day. Nothing is worse than to read a period book and find modern day phrases throughout. Let us hope Barron continues her meticulous work and continues to bring forth more of Jane Austen for those of us who can never get enough!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful homage wrapped within a mystery August 29, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are more than a few literary tragedies -- the burning of the Library at Alexandria and Coleridge's ill-timed caller come to mind -- and among them one must list Cassandra Austen's burning of the majority of her sister Jane's letters. Despite the loss of this treasure trove, Stephanie Barron manages to capture the style and spirit of Miss Jane's lovely prose, and she does so within the framework of cozy murder mysteries. The series is highly entertaining, and this fourth installment is no exception. Though the mystery is fairly transparent (It's easy to figure out what happened, though it takes a while to figure out whodunit), the language is elegant and witty and we learn a lot about Britain's Great Terror, landscaping, horses and even Jane Austen and her family. My next visit to England will definitely include a visit to Godmersham! Though I would appreciate an author's note detailing the fictional status of the characters, I am puzzled by the complaints about learning. When knowledge is gained so painlessly, why would one choose mindless entertainment?
This story takes place near Jane's brother Edward's estate, Godmersham, in Kent, at the time if the Canterbury Races. At first I was disappointed that some of the series' most endearing characters were missing -- Eliza and Sir Harold Trowbridge are only mentioned or appear briefly. I was not as disappointed to have Jane's mother and sister absent, as Cassandra is basically a wet blanket in this series and Mother is very annoying. But I was pleasantly surprised to become better acquainted not only with Jane's brothers Neddie and Henry, but also Neddie's wife Lizzy and daughter Fanny. These characters are a lot of fun, and scenes of the family gathering to try and reason out matters are particularly engaging.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read for any Austen fan!
Well researched and well written! Thankful to have an extremely good series of books that I believe would impress any Austen fan!
Published 2 months ago by EJK
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it. Escape.
Published 3 months ago by Laura L Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, you won't want to put it down.
I have read the entire series by Stephanie Barron, as well as the series by Carrie Bebris. If you love Jane Austen, you will love these authors as well. Read more
Published 4 months ago by kjkanjohnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this Series
The only problem is that my friends keep borrowing them! I'm already in replacing mode...They need to be indistructable -
Or Kindle?
Ms.P
Published 13 months ago by Pam
3.0 out of 5 stars Jane at a distance
I prefer more of Jane's direct involvement in the plot but enjoy anything with her wonderful description and incisive observations that tell us so much about life in her day and... Read more
Published 17 months ago by R C La Gro
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this series
If you are a fan of Jane Austin and read and reread her books, start this series. This one is the slowest moving of the first 5 I have read. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Jane's genius at work once again!
In the summer of 1805, Jane Austen finds herself enjoying the comforts of a visit to Godmersham Park, her wealthy brother Edward's estate in Kent. Read more
Published on May 29, 2011 by Ruth Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Jane Austen inspired Regency mystery involving...
In the summer of 1805, we find Jane Austen visiting her wealthy brother Edward and his large family at their palatial country estate Godmersham Park in Kent, enjoying the comforts... Read more
Published on April 13, 2011 by Laurel Ann
4.0 out of 5 stars Still a cracking good read!
Although I did not enjoy this book as much as the last one it is still a great read. We have our sleuth, Jane Austen, delving into the world of espionage. Read more
Published on December 20, 2008 by S. Schwartz
4.0 out of 5 stars Early 19th Century Murder She Wrote
A 2007 summer reading list mini review.

No one ever confused Jane Austen with Jessica Fletcher. Until now. Read more
Published on June 21, 2007 by David C. Roller
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More About the Author

STEPHANIE BARRON

Stephanie Barron is a graduate of Princeton and Stanford, where she studied history. THE WHITE GARDEN is her twentieth novel, but she 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. JANE AND THE MADNESS OF LORD BYRON, the tenth Austen mystery, is forthcoming from Bantam in October 2010. 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 THE ALIBI CLUB, which Publishers Weekly named as one of the fifteen best novels of 2006. She lives and works in Denver, CO.


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