So here it is, the latest Being A Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron. Jane and the Waterloo Map features one of the heroes of that battle, and the action occurs only a few months later. Her writing gets better and better, she invents interesting and challenging characters, loves quirky and impossible situations, and is not particularly worried about shedding a little blood here and there. In this case, there is also poison – the needles of the yew, which, brewed in a tea, cause paralysis and death.
Jane is not here the gadabout Londoner, but is herself injured, and is also caring for her brother, who is ill, and whose bank is in trouble. There are fewer characters and less social activity than in many of these mysteries – and so more focus on particular interactions, mostly around Carlton House, the fabulous home of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent. There are also a couple of wonderful historical painters, and Jane’s now grown up niece, Fanny, has a part to play.
Great writing, great fun, smart – but who knows when the next one will appear? Besides, Jane has only a year and half to live (the books are true to where she was and what she was up to, as the background of these mysteries), so the series is nearly done, no matter what.
P. S. If you are going to read these superlatives mysteries – start with the beginning and work your way through. They build on each other. Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor is the first.