Barron ’85 pens another mystery for Jane Austen, detective

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(Marea Evans)
New book: Jane and the Canterbury Tale, by Stephanie Barron ’85 aka Francine Mathews (Bantam)

The author: Fifteen years ago, Barron published Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, which introduced Jane Austen, detective. Since then Barron has continued to capture Austen’s voice and era in her Jane Austen Mystery series. Barron also is the author of the stand-alone historical suspense novels A Flaw in the Blood and The White Garden. As Francine Mathews, she is the author of the Nantucket mystery series and other novels.

 
The book: In the 11 installment of the Jane Austen mystery series, the famous sleuth attends the wedding of Adelaide Fiske and Andrew MacAllister. Trouble starts when a mysterious man arrives at the party and leaves a bag of tamarind seeds, rendering the bride ghostly white. The next day, the stranger is found dead, and soon he is identified as Fiske’s first husband, Curzon Fiske, long believed to have been dead. Austen’s brother is the magistrate investigating the murder, but it’s up to Austen to figure out why Fiske returned in the first place and who was responsible for the murder.
 

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Opening lines: “‘Ah, Miss Austen,’ cried Mr. Richard Tylden as he offered me a glass of claret this evening – most welcome, as the day had been exceedingly wet, and the crush of persons in the ballroom at Chilham Castle so great as to entirely prevent me approaching the fire – ‘It has been an age since we met! And yet you appear to greater advantage than ever, if I may permit myself to offer so bold a compliment. That gown is excessively becoming. A shade exactly suited to a lady of your colouring.’”
 
Review: “Barron writes charmingly in the style of Jane Austen while providing a leisurely exploration of murder and local society in a gothic tale that’s more than equal to Jane’s earlier cases,” wrote a critic for Kirkus.