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.