Sep 192014

Dying to WriteDetective Sergeant Patrick Shea Meets Jane Austen

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

Besides crafting lovely historical Austenesque romances, variations, and tales of time travel, Mary Simonsen also pens a series of detective/crime mysteries featuring Patrick Shea, a thirty-something detective sergeant working for Scotland Yard. For the fourth installment of her Patrick Shea Mystery series, Mary Simonsen decided to throw a little Jane Austen into the mix. While we don’t see a mystery involving Mr. Darcy, the Bennets, or Jane Austen herself – we do see a Jane Austen conference become very grim when one of the conference speakers is found dead in her room…

I’ve always been a fan of Jane Austen-related mysteries; the series by Carrie Bebris, Tracy Kiely, and Stephanie Barron are amongst some of my favorite Austenesque reads. 🙂 However, Dying to Write is quite different from all those.  This is a series about a real detective who works with a police force team that gathers evidence and interrogates the suspects. Think less Nancy Drew and Miss Marple and more Law and Order or NYPD Blue.

This was my first experience with any type of police procedural literature and I found it fascinating! No need to sleuth around in the shadows or stealthily search basements and attics unobserved. Detectives have a much easier time collecting their evidence, whether it be requesting phone records, fingerprint scans, or DNA tests. I was greatly impressed (although to be honest, not at all surprised) with Mary Simonsen’s knowledge of not just police procedures, but British police procedures! After reading almost a dozen of her novels, I’ve come to know that Ms. Simonsen is truly meticulous with her research and history – no matter the subject, location, or time period. I found the Glossary of British Terms and Note from the Author to be very helpful, especially since this was a new kind of read for me.

I, of course, loved the Jane Austen conference parts in this mystery – the arguments between Jane Austen purists and the Jane Austen Fan Fiction community were fun to explore and witness. I loved seeing the characters discuss blogs and online groups, reference fictional plots and titles related to Jane Austen, and quote Jane Austen during police interrogations! (Ha HA! That got old for DS Shea real fast!) I also loved how Patrick Shea decided to start reading Pride and Prejudice to helps solve the case!

In Dying to Write we learn a bit about our thorough and hardworking detective and his personal life. I enjoyed hearing some details about Patrick’s previous cases and his history with women…I’m dying to know more about Maureen and what happened between them! (you know me, I like my romantic bits!) I imagine that if I had read the other three books in this series before reading Dying to Write, I would have an even better picture and understanding of Patrick Shea’s character and past. However, because Mary Simonsen provides a good amount of details about Patrick and his life in Dying to Write, this novel can still stand alone.

My one quibble is that I sometimes felt it was hard to tell the other police officers a part from one another. This might be because there are two different police forces working on this case, or because many of these characters were introduced in previous books with more descriptive detail and distinguishing characteristics. Either way, I had a hard time keeping straight all the female and higher ranking officers. Maybe along with a glossary of British terms, there could be one for characters (especially those that are reoccurring).  But despite that, I found this mystery to be absorbing, well-constructed, and not at all easy to solve!

How far would a Janeite go to protect the legacy of Jane Austen? Would someone really murder an author to prevent her from publishing a book? Does Patrick Shea become a fan of Jane Austen??? Well wouldn’t you like to know… 😉

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Mary has kindly offered 1 ebook and 1 paperback copy of Dying to Write for me to randomly give away to TWO lucky readers.  Woot Woot!!!

    Dying to Write Dying to Write

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about my review below!

  • This giveaway is open worldwide (for the ebook) and to US residents (for the paperback).  Thank you, Mary!
  • This giveaway ends September 26th!
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  38 Responses to “Dying to Write – Mary Simonsen (+ Giveaway!!!)”


    Hi, Meredith. Thank you for your review and hosting a giveaway of Dying to Write. I am so glad that you enjoyed the story. I am sure it’s quite different than what you usually read for your blog, so I’m doubly pleased that you liked it!


    Meredith, I forgot to tell you that Patrick has his own website. It’s It has a listing of the four books in the series with excerpts and a blog!


    I recently been reading a few of Mary Lydon Simonsen books and love them. There just enough history so the readers can understand the time period but not too overbearing if you are not interested in reading about history in a P&P variation.

    Your new novel sounds interesting. I’m always fascinated with a bit of CSI/detective work along with some Jane Austen. Looking forward to reading your novels. Thank you for the giveaways.

    Great review as always Meredith!


    Excellent review, Meredith! So glad you enjoyed Patrick Shae. Like you, I am fascinated by all that goes in to a police procedural. Mary Simonsen truly knows her stuff and knows how to make it interesting. 🙂

    No need to enter me in the giveaway.


      Hi Jakki. Always good to hear from you. Everyone should know that Jakki was my editor on Dying to Write, and she did a phenomenal job, not only in grammar and punctuation, but in making sure the continuity and timeline were correct and that my characters stayed in character.


      Thank you, Jakki! I didn’t know you edited this book! Or at least, I don’t think I did! Congrats to both of you on a wonderful book! 🙂 What a great team.


    Now, if only I could convince my husband to read Pride and Prejudice like the detective!


      Michelle, I can’t get my husband to read P&P either. I tried to get him to read Cold Mountain, but he handed it back to me and said it was P&P set in the Civil War. I said, “How would you know?”


      LOL! Yes, maybe we need to speak more like JA characters around our husbands so much so that they turn to P&P in hopes of understanding us! 🙂 That’s funny, Mary!


    Oh my goodness! I love mysteries and police procedurals. And of course I love all things Jane. Where has this book been all of my life! My two favorite fiction genres smashed together!! I’m clapping my hands and dancing with glee.

    Would anyone recommend reading the other books in the series before reading this one? Or do they stand alone?

    Thanks for the review and for bringing this book to my attention. Can you tell I’m excited?


      Hi Heather. You might want to read Three’s A Crowd, a novella. It introduces the character of Patrick Shea, and it is .99 on Nook and Kindle. The other two, A Killing in Kensington and A Death in Hampden, are stand alones. Thanks for sharing your excitement! I’m excited too.


      It was a great idea to combine the two, wasn’t it? I would love to read another! Maybe something sinister could happen at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath? 🙂 I’d follow Mary’s recommendation. Hope you enjoy reading Dying to Write as much as I did!


    I have yet to read any of this series , I think I had better add the first one to my wish list


    I’d like to win the paperback. I love mysteries and like British ones, of course. I am a little familiar with this author.


    The combination of Austenesque and mystery series is a stroke ingenuity, Mary. Coupled with Meredith’s excellent review, I hope to read this book. So please enter my name for the e-book, Meredith.


    Have read and enjoyed all of Ms.Simonsen’s books, have been waiting for this one…love the premise…murder mystery and Jane Austen..would love to win a copy..Thanks for the chance to win…


    thank you for the giveaway!!!!


    I love mysteries and this book sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the giveaway!


    This sounds like another good book from Mary Simonsen! I already had this book on my to-be-purchased list and now I’ve added the other three. Good think I’m retired, so I have lots of time to read.
    Thank you for the giveaway, Mary!


      It is, Catherine! I love how no matter what Mary writes – time travel, paranormal. historical, police procedural, I enjoy it! Always fun to try something new with Mary!


    Forgot to mention that I plan to check out Patrick Shea’s website!! Sounds fun!


      Thanks, Catherine. I hope you enjoy the series. I love London and the South of England, so writing this series has been a blast for me. I’m very proud of my website. I hired a talented designer, and I think she knocked it out of the park.

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