From Publishers Weekly
Set in the spring of 1811, Barron's ninth Jane Austen mystery (after 2005's Jane and His Lordship's Legacy
) finds both detective and author in sparkling form. Jane is at the London theater during a visit to her brother Henry when she glimpses a Russian princess gazing intently at the box of prominent politician Lord Castlereagh. That night, the princess is found dead outside Castlereagh's home. Unconvinced by the appearance of suicide, Jane begins inquiries that eventually encompass high society and their servants, politicians of every stripe and even courtesans. When a chance act brings Jane a threatening visit from the Bow Street Runners, her search for the truth intensifies still further. The book's intricate plotting is satisfying right to the last revelation, and the variety of secondary characters depicted with affectionate irony adds humor and historical depth. Like Regency great Georgette Heyer, the author excels at both period detail and modern verve. Aping Austen's cool, precise and very famous voice is a hard trick to pull off, but Barron manages it with aplomb. (Dec.)
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She penned insightful prose about prejudice and pride, but how would nineteenth-century novelist Jane Austen have fared as a sleuth? Fairly well, if Barron's popular series is any indication. In this ninth entry, 35-year-old Jane travels to London, where she oversees the printing of her first novel, Sense and Sensibility,
and spends time among the city's high-society set, including her brother, Henry, and his wife, Eliza. As the novel opens, the elite crowd is rattled over the suspicious death of Russian princess Evgenia Tscholikova, whose body was found on the doorstep of a former Tory minister. Through a somewhat convoluted turn of events, Jane and her sister-in-law find themselves in possession of jewels belonging to the late Slavic beauty. They have seven days to prove their innocence before being hanged for their crimes. "Barques of Frailty" is one of the many monikers for courtesans of the era, who used their beauty and charm to manipulate powerful men. While Austen fans will enjoy Barron's period detail and series devotees won't want to miss the latest, Barron's voluminous descriptions come at the expense of suspense. Allison BlockCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved