Sunday, November 9, 2014

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron --- 329 pages

The twelfth book in Barron's intriguing series of historical mysteries, in which Jane Austen employs her formidable talents as a sleuth, makes a happy Christmas present for her readers,

Not only has Barron produced another clever mystery, but her story is inserted seamlessly into the historical record of Austen's life and times. The principal characters and places portrayed are all real people Austen knew and actual places she visited, and the plot revolves on historical events that were well known to Austen and her contemporaries. Barron creates a plausible portrait of the author that feels remarkably true to what we know or can surmise about her life and character.

In this book Jane and her mother and sister Cassandra arrive in Steventon to spend the Christmas holidays with her brother James and his family in Steventon rectory, the house where Jane grew up. She is looking forward to renewing her acquaintance with old friends in the neighborhood and enjoying a traditional Georgian Yuletide celebration as the guest of the wealthy and prominent Chute family at their nearby estate,The Vyne. The revels are rudely interrupted when one of the guests suffers what appears to be a fatal accident ---  which Jane immediately suspects is something more sinister. When an important diplomatic document goes missing, Jane knows her suspicions are well-founded. Another guest offers his assistance in solving the crime, but Jane wonders if he is too eager --- to help, or to hinder?

American author Stephanie Barron studied history at Princeton and Stanford Universities, and worked as an intelligence analyst for the CIA. She published her first book in 1992 and left the CIA a year later to write full time.  Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas is set in December of 1814. Sadly, we can anticipate only a few more Austen mysteries, since we know the real Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817 at the age of 42. All the more reason to savor them! 

Click HERE to read a review of Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Click HERE to read a discussion with Stephanie Barron on the Austenprose blog.

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