Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Oh happy day! The return of Elizabeth Parker – Janeite, amateur sleuth, and attendee at this year’s Jane Austen Festival in Bath! I adore sarcastic and clever Elizabeth Parker (I want to be her BFF), and I am so happy to follow my favorite Austen fanatics (Elizabeth and Aunt Winnie are definitely fanatics!) through some more mystery and mayhem!
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 Bride’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 not as fully developed. 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!