This is the seventh 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 fall of 1808, shortly after the untimely death of her beloved sister in law Elizabeth, Jane has her two young nephews staying with her at her temporary residence, Castle Square in Southampton. In an attempt to entertain the two teenagers, she takes them to explore the ruins of an English abbey, where a mysterious man gives her a message from her most trusted friend, Lord Harold Trowbridge. Once again Lord Harold asks for her help, this time to spy on the new owner of Netley Lodge, the beautiful and dangerous Sophia Challoner. When a British frigate is set afire and a man is found murdered, Lord Harold suspects Sophia, but Jane has her doubts, so together they begin to investigate. The stakes are too high, as the future of the war depends upon finding the traitor responsible for the crimes and stopping Napoleon's invasion. Although extremely dangerous, the investigation brings them closer and Jane realises that the Gentleman Rogue may return her affections and happiness can be within her reach.
This series is excellent and this seventh 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 the haunted ruins of Netley Abbey are beautiful 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. 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 the appearance of her dear friend Martha Lloyd, whom I knew mostly for her recipe book, was a very nice addition. It was wonderful to see Lord Harold Trowbridge again, as he and Jane make an excellent pair and their romantic relationship develops beautifully, taking into consideration their characters and their circumstances. The story is narrated by Austen in her journal and the language is very similar to her existing letters, thus very realistic.
In addition, the book includes excellent and very useful footnotes by Stephanie Barron, explaining some references to Austen's life and providing valuable information on the customs and politics of the time.
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. Also, I think the ending is quite shocking and heartbreaking, so it might be difficult to read this and then go back to the stories before this conclusion.
I can hardly believe this series is distributed only in America and is barely known in the UK. The Jane Austen mystery books are great - rattling good fun. The aspiring Regency lady novelist turns amateur sleuth.
In 'The Ghosts of Netley' the Napoleonic War is raging and Jane's own brother is a captain on a ship of the line caught up in the hostilities. A shipbuilder is found with his throat cut in the burned out wreckage of the vessel which was under construction in his Southampton shipyard. Our modest heroine, country parson's daughter,becomes embroiled in the dangerous arena of murder and espionage.
Barron has captured Jane Austen's character and voice and the zeitgeist of Regency England splendidly. Jane is brave but vulnerable, eternally disappointed in love and under the thumb of a domineering mother like so many of her fictional heroines. Barron has also succeeded in crafting a very good mystery with red herrings which keeps the reader guessing until the final page.
Found this and other titles by chance. Attracted to this title due to it's local connection to me. That said it was a very enjoyable read, faultlessly researched and although it is a style of literature I have avoided all my life I have very much enjoyed reading it.
This is the sixth book in Stephanie Barron's series featuring a sleuthing Jane Austen. Obviously the stories are fictional, but they are woven cleverly into the story we know of Jane Austen's life. Phrases appear throughout the book, which will seem familiar to anyone with a good knowledge of Austen's work and I think Barron often has Mrs Bennet in mind when writing Mrs Austen! The mystery plot is quite good, if a little gruesome, and I love the character of Lord Harold - The Gentleman Rouge - who has appeared in previous stories. Barron also provides us with a strong cast of supporting characters, which make this an enjoyable way to while away a few hours.