“The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.
Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In a tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.”
True confession time: I don’t think I’ve ever read Jane Austen. I remember trying to read Pride and Prejudice many moons ago but wasn’t in the reading mood so I didn’t get very far. I have, however, seen countless adaptations of her work on film and loved them all, which is what drew me to The Murder of Mr. Wickham (Amazon). I received a digital copy of the book from NetGalley and Vintage in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Besides all the Jane Austen favorites, there are two new characters, Juliet Tilney and Jonathan Darcy, who turn into teen sleuths in order to solve the mystery of Mr. Wickham’s untimely demise. It’s been years since I’ve seen any Austen adaptation, but I remember Mr. Wickham. So there was an immediate dislike to him when he enters the story.
The Regency Period is depicted accurately, as far as I know. I’m not an expert on the period, but the descriptions of settings and clothing and societal norms seems on point. It’s clear the author did a lot of research, not just with the Austen novels but with the period in general.
As for the mystery, I thought it started out slow simply because there was so much time spent setting the scene before Wickham even arrives, and I think he gets killed about 25% through the book, which seemed a little late for me. However, if it’s been a while since you’ve read Austen, or like me and are only vaguely familiar with the characters, this is necessary. Once Wickham is dead, the story picks up until about the halfway point, when I found myself a little bored by all the exposition. Then, the pace picks up again and out comes a surprising yet satisfying conclusion.
I enjoyed the book overall and just thought the middle part needed work. I think I would have liked it more if I were a Jane Austen devotee or a devout reader of Regency period novels. There’s a half-hearted attempt to add romance to the story, but it’s put on the back burner in order to solve the mystery and wasn’t fully fleshed out. I’d recommend The Murder of Mr. Wickham to Austen fans and anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries and period novels.
For more reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com
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