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… 😉
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!!!
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!