Friday, March 14, 2014

Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd

Murder at Mansfield Park: A Novel by Lynn Shepherd --- 363 pages

In her first novel Lynn Shepherd demonstrates she is a literary talent to reckon with, as she turns Jane Austen's classic Mansfield Park inside out and into an equally witty murder mystery to boot.

The famously meek Fanny Price has been transformed from the poor and put upon relation to a spoilt and conniving heiress, while Mary Crawford now takes center stage as the quietly intelligent and long-suffering heroine of Shepherd's tale, faced with the horrifying choice of incriminating either her beloved but headstrong brother Henry, or Edmund, the man who has secretly won her heart, as the murderer.

Shepherd also introduces her own sleuth, the London thief-taker Charles Maddox. Retained by the Mansfield family to discover the truth of these terrible events, Maddox finds himself captivated by Mary's quiet intelligence and strength of character.

Throughout her carefully plotted tale, Shepherd also brilliantly maintains Austen's distinctive narrative voice, seamlessly interweaving Austen's words with her own. What P.D. James attempted to do in Death at Pemberley, Shepherd has achieved in Murder at Mansfield Park, giving us a murder mystery that might have come from the fertile pen of Austen herself.

Lynn Shepherd has published two subsequent mysteries with literary antecedents, featuring Charles Maddox: The Solitary House (based on Charles Dickens' Bleak House) and A Fatal Likeness (based on the lives of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein). A fourth Charles Maddox mystery, based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, is scheduled for publication later this year. All are highly recommended.

Click HERE to check out Lynn Shepherd's blog!

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