July 27, 2015
Book Review: Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas
I've always enjoyed books that feature a real person as the sleuth. The Jane Austen mysteries by Stephanie Barron has always skillfully blended Jane Austen's real life with her imagined role as an amateur detective. The first book begins the night that Jane turns down Harris Bigg-Wither's proposal of marriage, and for all intents and purposes sets her role of spinster in stone. The series continued for many years on a typical book a year schedule, but it has slowed down in the last 4 or 5 years and so I had forgotten to keep looking for new additions.
I was thrilled when I realized a new one came out last fall. When I finally started reading it, well past the holidays (Christmas in July? That's a thing, right?) I devoured it in about two days.
In Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, Jane travels with her mother and sister Cassandra to stay with her brother James and his family for Christmas and Twelfth Night. When they arrive they are invited to a local estate, The Vyne, for dinner and a short stay. That short stay is extended first by a snowstorm and then a murder. What follows next is a traditional English Country House mystery. The murder at first appears to be an accident, but Jane and another guest, Raphael West (son of the famous painter of the era Benjamin West) discover that all is not as it seems. Without knowing if West is completely trustworthy, Jane rushes to solve the murder and recover a stolen item that new peace in Europe rests upon.
West reminded me of a character from earlier in the series who was Jane's occasional partner in solving mysteries and I think the chemistry between them added a spark of life that the last few books in this series were missing. Jane is at her best when she is working with an intellectual equal (and someone who sees her as such) and West fills this role nicely. I hope that Barron brings him back in future books.
I will certainly be paying better attention so I don't miss any more in this series!
If you are interested in this series, start with Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor. For a full list of the series check out Stephanie Barron's webpage.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Some links are affiliate links, thanks for supporting Hearth and Homefront!