Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
One night, while fondly reminiscing over their first encounter in Bath, the newly married Catherine and Henry Tilney decide that they would like nothing more than to revisit the famous spa resort and enjoy its pleasures as a married couple. The romantic and nostalgic pair arrive Bath without encountering any “robbers nor tempests,” yet are surprised to discover that Henry’s father and sister have traveled to Bath as well. Looks like this trip will be more of a family reunion than a romantic rendezvous! While the Tilneys are delighted to encounter Eleanor and her affable husband, Lord Whiting, the same can not be said for General Tilney, who is still as truculent and stern as ever.
What brings the general to Bath? Not his health, this time. It seems after being a widower for ten years, the general is once again contemplating marriage. Who’s the lucky lady? The recently widowed and supposedly wealthy Lady Beauclerk. Because of Eleanor’s and Henry’s concern for their father and disapproval in his choice of wife, the Tilneys and the Whitings keep close company with Lady Beauclerk and her clan. To Catherine, the Beauclerks seem a mysterious and scandalous bunch, and after spending some time with Lady Beauclerk’s flirtatious daughter, immoral nephew, and melodramatic sister-in-law, Catherine begins to suspect that there are several skeletons in their closet!
There Must Be Murder is a brilliant and reverent homage to Jane Austen’s Northagner Abbey. At 112 pages, this novella makes for an engaging and riveting afternoon read. In addition, the beautiful illustrations by Cassandra Chouinard delightfully enhance the story! My favorite aspect about this novella is Ms. Sullivan’s portrayals of Henry and Catherine. I love that even though Catherine has matured and grown wiser, she still has her fanciful moments, I love Henry’s teasing and tenderness towards his wife, and I found it so endearing that the Tilneys read Mysteries of Udolpho together before going to bed!
Besides Henry and Catherine, I loved the new character creations Ms. Sullivan has added to the mix. Matthews, Henry’s reliable and capable right-hand man, is the sort of character you just know has had an interesting past and I loved the Tilney’s large Newfoundland, MacGuffin, who was very protective of his master and mistress, yet also a little rambunctious! Moreover, I found the Beauclerks (the Thorpes of this novella) to be an interesting bunch, each family member was well-drawn and dynamic.
It is my sincerest wish (*hint hint Ms. Sullivan*) that this charming novella is the start of a wonderful series about the many adventures, misadventures, mysteries that befall Henry, Catherine MacGuffin, and Matthews! I adored There Must Be Murder and I highly recommend it to any Northanger Abbey or Henry Tilney fan!