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Murder Most Austen: A Mystery (Elizabeth Parker Mysteries) Hardcover – September 4, 2012
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In the fourth installment of this series, Elizabeth Parker is going to a Jane Austen festival in Bath with her Aunt Winnie. They are annoyed by a man on their flight also headed to the event who has new theories about Austen’s dark secrets. At the masquerade ball, that man is found murdered after a conversation with a person in an Elizabeth Bennet mask. Aunt Winnie’s old friend Cora is accused. Cora’s daughter, Izzy, befriends Elizabeth but has her own agenda. Elizabeth attends the festival in between asking questions and finding another body. The setting for this volume is fresh and will attract new readers to the series. The plot is clever, and Elizabeth and Aunt Winnie continue to appeal. Austen fiction fans will like this, along with Joanna Campbell Slan’s new Charlote Bronte series and titles from G. M. Malliet. --Amy Alessio
“Another stellar entry in the Austen-centric series...Destined to appeal to Janeites and mystery lovers alike, Kiely's latest whodunit should be universally acknowledged as a clever specimen of a crime novel that blends amateur detection with literary flair.” ―Jay Strafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch
“As the mystery unfolds against the well-constructed backdrop of a fan festival, keen Janites will be excited by the frequent use of Austen's own words and phrases as characters interact. VERDICT An engaging story with solid surprises awaits cozy mystery readers, Austen fans, and those looking for a charming series to follow.” ―Library Journal
“Kiely's pleasing fourth mystery featuring Jane Austen fan Elizabeth Parker (after 2011's Murder Most Persuasive ) takes Elizabeth and her great-aunt, Winnie Reynolds, to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath....Janeites will appreciate the several minor characters and situations inspired by Northanger Abbey. Elizabeth makes an engaging protagonist, ably misguided by her lively aunt.” ―Publishers Weekly
“An ingenious whodunnit where laugh-out-loud humour leavens the tension.” ―Jane Austen Regency
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Elizabeth Parker and her flamboyant great-aunt Winnie come to an Austen Festival in Bath, England. Along the way, they meet an arrogant, English Professor, Richard Baines, who claims to be an expert in Austen, and propounds preposterous opinions about her works and the characters, claiming they are filled with "sex and intrigue." This asinine professor is to present a paper at the festival, claiming that Jane Austen did not die of Addison's disease, but of syphillis. Cora Beadle, Aunt Winnie's good friend is outraged by this, as well she should be. She vehemently voices her opinion to Baines, even threatening him. At the first fancy-dress Ball of the festival, Elizabeth discovers the murdered body of this foolish professor. And the prime suspect is Cora. Cora's daughter prevails upon Elizabeth to investigate after Aunt Winnie brags about Elizabeth's sleuthing skills. Against her will, Elizabeth agrees. Elizabeth then happens on a second murdered victim much to the annoyance of the investigating inspector, a rather dour, humorless woman named Middlefield. Middlefield becomes extremely annoyed when she learns that Elizabeth has garnered more pertinent facts about the case than she.
In the end, however, it is Elizabeth who figures out who the killer is. But at great risk to herself.
If you love Austen, you'll love this book. Amazon Verified Purchase.
For those of you who have never read a novel in this series before, they are collection of contemporary cozy mysteries. Each one draws some themes and characters from or pays homage to a different Jane Austen novel - Murder at Longbourn (Pride and Prejudice), Murder on the Brides's Side (Sense and Sensibility), Murder Most Persuasive (this one may be a little obvious - Persuasion), Murder Most Austen (Northanger Abbey). Our main characters in all four installments are Elizabeth Parker, her boyfriend (and former childhood nemesis Peter McGowan), and her feisty and eccentric Aunt Winnie (who is a hoot and a half!).
In the midst of their travels to England and then to Bath, Elizabeth and Aunt Winnie become acquainted with several Jane Austen admirers, festival attendees, and one Austen "scholar." Professed Austen expert and egomaniac Professor Baines soon becomes a very popular subject amongst all the festival goers. One reason is because of his rumored theory about how Jane Austen died from a STD (ummm...what?) and another reason is because he is soon found dead at the costume ball during the festival. Was Professor Baines murdered for his money, his misdeeds, or for his absurd notions about Jane Austen...
As always with this series, my most favorite aspect of this novel was not the mystery, but all the lovely Jane Austen parallels and allusions. Witnessing Aunt Winnie's and Elizabeth's verbal swordplay with Austen quips and quotes never ceases to amaze me!
Aunt Winnie snorted. "There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me."
I was not to be outdone. "I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know. That you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own," I quoted back.
"True," Aunt Winnie replied with a dip of her red head. "But, I"m resolved on the matter, so keep your breath to cool your porridge. Or, in other words, shut your pie hole," she added with a grin. - page 43
In addition, just as I had in her previous novels, I found Tracy Kiely's closed circle of suspects to be intriguing, cleverly-drawn, and fully capable of arousing my suspicions. They kept me guessing! I must admit, I thought I had the mystery figured out this time...and alas, I was wrong!
However, I did wish that the mystery's resolution didn't come about quite so quickly; it felt a little rushed. And I must once again submit a request that handsome and sweet Peter McGowan receive more page time! Maybe in the next book? (*crosses fingers*)
An excellent blend of mischief, intrigue, humor, and Janeite geekery! Murder Most Austen takes readers to a Jane Austen Festival that they will not soon forget! I await with great anticipation to see what sort of mystery and murder Elizabeth Parker stumbles onto next!
I, too, love old Cary Grant films and Jane Austen novels. Ms. Kiely weaves a darn good detective story intermixed with fun, humour, twists and turns, and a great adventure. I have never been offended by the language (something that crops up far too often anymore, both spoken and written), and am always sad when I've finished reading as I have to wait for the next one to be published.
If you enjoy a good murder among friends, I highly recommend Tracy Kiely's works.