I enjoy this series so much. There’s just something so pleasurable about watching a talented author who knows Jane Austen’s work in all the right ways play around in that world and with those characters, and then add in a well-executed murder mystery on top of that and I’m gonna be happy no question. This is like, the essence of good fanfic, except it’s polished, professionally published fanfic (hence my shelf name).
So last time we had Mr. Wickham getting his just desserts, and this time the unfortunate victim is a character we’ve never met before, so it’s sadder that she’s dead. It’s also sad that she had the extreme misfortune of being married to Mr. Willoughby, of <i>Sense and Sensibility</i> infamy, who broke Marianne’s heart. Marianne is also suffering from PTSD from the events of the first book, which was satisfying. I didn’t think that Claudia Gray would handle this sequel badly, but I was very pleased to see that events from book to book will be continuous and have consequences.
Anyway, that PTSD is triggered when poor Mrs. Willoughby drops dead during a party where almost all the characters of importance have gathered, including Juliet Tilney (who is visiting Marianne, her new friend from the first book), and Mr. Darcy the younger (who is apparently an old school chum/enemy/former bullying victim of Willoughby’s). It’s been since May that I read this so I don’t remember why he and the other two men were invited to stay with Willoughby, but they just were, that’s the set-up, okay. And because they’ve done this before and the local constabulary is really not handling things all that well, Juliet and Jonathan team up again to try to solve the murder.
In addition to being pleased with the character work here for all the characters (including Willoughby!) I was also very pleased with the mystery, which I thought was clever, and which of course completely fooled me (not that hard to do, but still).
I’m not sure how many different murders can happen in the vicinity of these two young people without it straining credulity, but I’m here for it regardless.