Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James

I’m not one of those rabid Jane Austen fans who’s read every one of her books multiple times — I think I’ve read every one of the once, and enjoyed them, and am generally culturally aware enough to enjoy a good Austen parody like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The prospect of a mystery set at Pemberley, several years after Elizabeth Bennett’s marriage to Mr. Darcy, was intriguing enough to make me pick up this novel.

The story is heavy on atmosphere and on character updates that will interest the aforementioned Austen fans who might like to imagine what the Darcys’ married lives, and the lives of their families and friends, might be like after Austen’s book closes. The mystery is one step removed from the main characters — a body is found on the Darcys’ Pemberley estate, but neither Darcy nor Elizabeth is directly involved either in the murder or, in any significant way, in its solution. So for serious mystery fans, this might be a bit of a letdown. I never figure out “whodunit” before the book reveals that, but the solution of this mystery hinged on a bit of misdirection early in the story that I saw right through, so I was at least halfway to getting the solution. I think more people will pick this  up for the “Pride and Prejudice sequel” aspect than for the mystery, but for those who like visiting that world it will be an enjoyable short vacation.

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