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  • A delight for Janeites!

    Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver is the debut of A Jane Austen Tea Society Mysteries. Dr. Phaedra Brighton is a quirky college professor at Somerset University. Phaedra teaches English Literature and is a Jane Austen scholar. She dresses in Regency attire (including reticule, slippers, and parasol) to teach. Phaedra has been hired as a historical consultant for Who Wants to Marry Mr. Darcy (a cross between The Bachelor and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). The show is being filmed at Marling where her friend, Charlene and her new husband, Bill Collier now reside. Bill Collier is not a nice man (putting it mildly). During a heavy rainstorm, the cast and crew take refuge in Marling. One of the bachelorette’s is wearing Charlene’s Georgian necklace when the power goes out. The necklace is stolen, and Bill is livid. The storm becomes increasingly severe and then a large tree crashes into the manor. While Charlene checks on her ill mum, Phaedra agrees to assess the damage caused by the tree and look in on Bill who had decided to take a bath during the lightning storm. Phaedra finds Bill dead in the bathtub. It is obvious that he did not die of natural causes. Detective Morelli is assigned the case and he is being urged to close it quickly. The evidence quickly piles up against Charlene. Phaedra sets out to find the true culprit. The guilty party is not happy with Phaedra’s meddling and attempts to get her out of the way. Phaedra with help from her Jane Austen Tea Society friends work through the list of suspects. Can Phaedra unravel the clues before the killer strikes again? There are numerous references to Jane Austen novels throughout the story. I can tell the author knows Jane Austen and her works. The story contains good writing, but the pacing is a little slow. I admit that I am not a fan of Phaedra. I like that she loves to read and is a respected scholar. I thought it was clever that she dresses in Regency clothing for her lectures. Her personality, though, is only okay. I found her to be judgmental. Her upbringing is apparent from her attitude and how out of touch she is about certain things. The mystery provides us with several suspects since Bill Collier was not a likeable man (a real toady). There are good clues to help readers solve the crime before the reveal. I found Phaedra’s style of questioning to be lacking. Phaedra can be brusque, and she lacks subtlety. Phaedra’s mother is just like Mrs. Bennett. She is always trying to marry off her daughters. There is interesting Regency trivia in the book. I learned some interesting facts. A few changes to Phaedra would not go amiss. Phaedra likes to act superior to others, makes hasty judgements, and I did not like how she withheld evidence from friends and police (to the detriment of the case). I am hoping the author will allow Phaedra to see some of the negative aspects of her characters and make necessary changes. I am hoping her questioning style will improve with time. Pride, Prejudice, and Peril is a Janeite delight with dead drug executive, a clever canine, a precious pug, a matchmaking mother, a dedicated detective, a framed friend, and a prying professor.

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