Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley...

Early in December I was excited to discover a new book was being published by my favorite British mystery author, PD James. Approaching her 92nd birthday this year, PD James is the Queen of the modern British murder mystery. Her main character, Adam Dagliesh, is both brilliant detective and deep poet; he is ever fascinating, as is every mystery she writes.

She writes to no formula; with great psychological insight and the usual British distance between characters, each story in the series is intriguing and revelatory.

But with PD James' advancing age, I live in fear that each mystery she writes will be her final book. So it was with great joy that I saw the listing on Amazon for her new title, Death Comes to Pemberley.

Then my Austen radar beeped to full-alert status. Pemberley, as Austen fans (or at least fans of Colin Firth's amazing Mr. Darcy) know well, is the name of Mr. Darcy's estate in Pride and Prejudice. Could this title be an inside joke of some sort? How was Dagliesh going to be involved with the world of Austen?

As soon as I learned of the new title by PD James, I rushed to our county library website and reserved a copy for myself. I've been slowly building my PD James library with 50-cent copies from library sales, but I knew that purchasing a copy of this new title was well out of my price range. I was thrilled to discover that I was ranked #3 with seven copies available; thus I would get a copy as soon as the library received it.

Death Comes to Pemberley arrived four days before Christmas, and Tawny, one of our librarian, laughed at my joy of receiving such an early Christmas gift. I practically danced home from the library, rather startling my kids when I waltzed through the front door. They didn't understand my excitement, but then, they rarely do.

And then I discovered the actual subject matter of the book; this was no Adam Dagliesh mystery; much as I adore my poet-detective, I was thrilled to read from the inside cover that Death Comes to Pemberley was set six years after Elizabeth Bennet's marriage to Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Yes, it's quite true: the famous PD James wrote a Pride and Prejudice fan fiction mystery.

Now I don't feel so shy about my own writings in the fan fiction genre. (But not enough to reveal my fan fiction pen name, thankyouverymuch!)

So the irrepressible Wickham is accused of murder in the woods surrounding Pemberley, and it's up to Elizabeth, Darcy, and Colonel Fitzwilliam to clear his iffy name and save his life from the gallows.

I finished it last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip back to the Regency Age and Pemberley. Even if one is not a fan of murder mysteries, the Austen-ishness of the book makes reading Death Comes to Pemberley well-worth one's time.

Next to read (as I await being able to check out a Kindle version of Stephen King's Under the Dome from our library system) is Julie and Julia which I also picked up from the library sale for 50 cents....

Happily reading,

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