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Jane and the Stillroom Maid: Being the Fifth Jane Austen Mysteryby Stephanie Barron
Synopses & Reviews
Jane Austen as sleuth continues to delight in her latest adventure (after Jane and the Genius of the Place), which sheds new light on the author's travels in 1806. While enjoying a ramble in the Derbyshire hills near Bakewell (a town Eliza Bennett visits in Pride and Prejudice), Jane discovers the mutilated body of a young man. Jane's suspicions are roused when her escort, Mr. George Hemming, prefers to remove the unidentified corpse to Buxton, rather than Bakewell, and they increase when the body proves to be that of a woman dressed in men's clothing. Moreover, the corpse is identified as Tess Arnold, a servant at one of the area's great houses, whom Mr. Hemming should have recognized. As the compounder of stillroom remedies, Tess had a reputation as a healer, until accused of witchcraft. Rumors of ritual murder by Freemasons-who include most of the neighboring gentry-excite the local populace and jeopardize the investigation of the justice of the peace, himself a Mason. When Mr. Hemming disappears before the inquest, Jane and the justice turn for help to Lord Harold Trowbridge, a guest at the nearby ducal house of Chatsworth. Barron catches Austen's tone amazingly well. Details of early 19th-century country life of all classes ring true, while the story line is clear, yet full of surprises. The "editor's notes" that punctuate the text and old cures for various ills that open each chapter add to the charm. (Aug.)
From the Hardcover edition.
The horrifying mutilation murder of a young servant girl from a nearby estate in the Peak District draws author-turned-sleuth Jane Austen into a terrifying mystery that could lead her into a perilous search for a possible madman or into the mysterious secrets of Freemasonry. By the author of Jane and the Genius of Place. Reprint.
Jane Austen is enjoying August, 1806, among Derbyshire's craggy peaks, sparkling streams, and cavernous gorges. That is, until she discovers the corpse of a young gentleman whose blond curls and delicate features suggest the face of an angel.
More shocking still is the coroner's revelation: the deceased is no man but a maidservant — clad in the garb of her master, Mr. Charles Danforth of Penfolds Hall. Tess Arnold had ruled the stillroom at Penfolds for many years — until she was labeled a witch and dismissed for indiscretion. Was Tess the prey of a madman loose in the hills, or perchance the cast-off impediment to a gentleman's marriage?
As usual, Jane's acute perception and her nose for trouble place her supremely at risk — from a killer who may strike as violently by day as he once did by night....
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