Jane who? The one and only Jane Austen, that’s who. Jane and the Waterloo Map is lucky number thirteen in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series, a set of books in which the great author becomes the character who attempts to solve the mystery of the hour when she’s not dealing with family obligations and publication matters. Ex-CIA analyst Stephanie Barron has been putting out these addictive marvels since 1996 and the line was recently taken over by Soho Press. Being a lover of Jane Austen, I can’t believe I’ve only just been introduced to the Jane Austen Mysteries. I want to read them all. Soho Crime | February 2, 2016 | Hardcover | 320 pp
“If you have a Jane-Austen-would-have-been-my-best-friend complex, look no further … Some of the most enjoyable, well-written fanfic ever created.” – O Magazine
I’m not sure I can fall in line with the quote above. But substitute Elizabeth Bennet in for Jane Austen, and we have a winner. Truth be told, I am not well-versed in the life of Jane Austen but her characters are another story. In this series, it is the famous author who becomes a sleuthing character, and she reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet all the same. Intentional? Even Barron’s version of Jane made the connection.
“How deeply the passage of time may alter one’s impressions and emotions! I viewed him now with as much approbation and gratitude as my Lizzy Bennet regarded her Darcy, after the restoration of poor Lydia.”
Although Jane and the Waterloo Map is number thirteen in the series, it was a standalone novel and I can safely assume they all are. No spoilers were provided on previous mysteries and the story was whole and complete. Jane Austen comes across a dying man in the Prince Regent’s Carlton House library. The man was a hero in the Battle of Waterloo and before he dies, he references a mysterious map which holds a cypher, and Jane suspects foul play. With a limited number of potential suspects, Jane and her trusted family and friends try to determine the meaning of the map and unmask the killer.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot meets Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet (in older form) to create this dazzling version of the brilliant Jane Austen. Professional novelist and natural inquisitor of the human psyche, she can’t back away from a puzzle when it falls into her lap. Delicately fighting against the status quo of the nineteenth century patriarchy, Jane is older in this novel – just before the publication of Emma – and demands a sense of autonomy.
“He reads reads your novels. He admits you to his confidence regarding the murder and the map. This is the highest mark of esteem possible – when a gentleman acknowledges the worth of a lady’s understanding.”
Mr. Darcy fans take note – we have a character who bears a slight semblance to this famed heartthrob – and naturally, he has the fancy of Lizzy – er – Jane. Another perfect reason to begin this series.
If you enjoy cozy mysteries or have a fascination with Jane Austen and/or any of her works, the Being a Jane Austen Mysteries will certainly capture your heart. I have a new series to begin with book one: Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor.