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on 17 November 2013
I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It is not as equal to Pride and Prejudice or any other Austen book. In that way I could really enjoy it. As a murder mystery it was very well written and the characters very well rounded. By using some of the names of Austen characters it added a little bit of sparkle, the story held up well throughout and I enjoyed it very much.
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on 10 April 2016
Another good read. Almost believable.
I find myself wondering if Jane really was an amateur detective
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on 30 May 2014
I have long admired this series and this is among the best novels in it. Stepahnnie Barron knows her period and her Jane. It is altogether convincing and an excellent read. Unfortunately the years will run out...
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on 12 April 2013
This is the fifth book in the Jane Austen Mystery Series by Stephanie Barron.

In a newly discovered secret journal, Jane Austen documents her adventures as an amateur sleuth. In the summer of 1806, after her beloved father's death, the Austen ladies are visiting Derbyshire with her cousin Edward Cooper. Naturally, Jane seizes the opportunity to enjoy a long walk and admire the beautiful nature, when she discovers the mutilated body of what appears to be a young gentleman. To her great surprise, it turns out that the body is that of a young stillroom maid of a nearby estate, and suspicions fall on the master of the estate Charles Danforth. Her family urges Jane to stay away from the investigation, but when her old friend Lord Harold Trowbridge asks for her help to look into Danforth's involvement in the case, Jane cannot possibly refuse.

This series is excellent and this fifth novel is one of the best so far. Stephanie Barron has, once again, created a gripping mystery plot, brilliantly set in Austen's time, with a very convincing Jane as its heroine. The descriptions of rural Derbyshire are stunning and the atmosphere fantastic. As in all the novels of the series, the everyday life of the time is excellent, drawn with beautiful imagery and historical detail, and I found the references to the recipe book of the stillroom maid and her remedies fascinating. The well developed characters are based on the types of characters created by Austen herself, and thus are very convincing and typical of their time. Jane is very convincing as an amateur sleuth, and it was wonderful to see again Lord Harold Trowbridge, as he and Jane make an excellent pair. The story is narrated by Austen in her journal and the language is very similar to her existing letters, thus very realistic.

In the previous books in the series, the author includes excellent and very useful footnotes explaining some references to Austen's life and providing valuable information on the customs and politics of the time, in the form of "editor's notes". However, this time the notes were very few and consequently it was very difficult to follow the plot at times, due to the lack of sufficient information. It seems odd that Stephanie Barron almost omitted these explanatory footnotes, as the book makes a lot of references to the politics and customs of Austen's time, and clearly a reader should not be required to have an extensive knowledge of British history and politics.

The novel can stand on its own, but as it makes many references to the previous novels in the series, I think it is best to start from the beginning.
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on 6 March 2007
This book is the fifth in the Jane Austen Mystery series. (The first is 'Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor',which is also very good.) Stephanie Barron has created a series of fictional mysteries with Jane Austen like a Regency Miss Marple, this is very convincingly done and she has researched Austen's life and also deals with some of the issues she faced. As such Austen fans may be interested in this series, but from a mystery point of view this book stands on its own merits. The story takes place in Derbyshire, where Jane visited in the Summer of 1806, and like most in this series the plot is complex and so therefore I found the pace a bit slow at times, but the ending was well worth the wait. I recommend this book to any fan of cosy/traditional or historical mysteries.
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on 18 February 2011
I like Jane Austen and murder mysteries and hence thought that I could be in for a treat.
Some aspects of the book were good: the sense of time and place (mostly), some nice scenes and, for me, the pace and turns of the story.
Unfortunately, the usage of whole sentences from Austen's books, often in places where they didn't quite seem to go, jarred somewhat. These yanked me out of the story and into the real world.
I wasn't expecting a large number of real-life people to feature prominently in the book, bar Jane; this limited their relationships, the scope of the tale, and the list of possible suspects. I also found it a bit unnerving, but perhaps I'm just not used to semi-fictionalised books.
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on 11 February 2011
It's the summer of 1806 and the Austen ladies are leaving Bath behind for a brief holiday in the Derbyshire Peaks before settling into their new life down in Southampton, after the sad death of Jane's father. It doesn't take long for the inimitable Jane to get itchy feet and want to explore the magnificent country around Bakewell, and it is on a fishing trip with her cousin and his friend, local solicitor George Hemming, that she stumbles upon a most gruesome sight. A body - shot and dismembered. At first, the party mistake the corpse for a gentleman, but it's soon revealed that it's a woman, the late stillroom maid of nearby Penfolds Hall.
And so Jane is pitched into another mystery - who laid in wait for the maid on the fell to shoot her, and who mutilated her body thereafter in the style of the secretive society of Freemasons? One of their members, someone trying to throw suspicion on them or someone with a grudge against the stillroom maid, for reasons yet undiscovered? The arrival of an old friend, the Gentleman Rogue, and her subsequent inclusion into the party at the grand Chatsworth estate, give Jane a glimpse into another world as she battles to try and deduce the real murderer before she must take her leave of Derbyshire.

Another excellent historical mystery in this series by Stephanie Barron. The author writes with a very good imitation of Austen's prose style and the inclusion of Lord Harold Trowbridge and his family, met in an earlier story, add an extra dimension of a peek into past grandeur whilst the mystery unfolds. There's also less of the rather irritating footnotes that were so prevalent in earlier books, which makes it easier to read. A good mystery/adventure.
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