In her seventh captivating adventure, Jane Austen finds her crime-solving mettle put to the test in a confounding case of intrigue, murder, and high treason. Among the haunted ruins of an ancient abbey, Jane is drawn into a shadow world of dangerous secrets and traitorous hearts where not only her life is at stake—but the fate of England.
As Jane Austen stands before the abandoned ruins of Netley Abbey, she imagines that ghosts really do haunt the centuries-old monastery. But the green-cloaked figure who startles her is all too human and he bears an unexpected missive from Lord Harold Trowbridge, one of the British government’s most trusted advisers—and a man who holds a high place in Jane’s life.Trowbridge tells Jane about a suspected traitor in their midst—and the disastrous consequences if she succeeds. But is Sophia Challoner, a beautiful widow with rumored ties to Emperor Bonaparte, really an agent of the enemy?
Dispatched to Netley Lodge, Jane sets about gaining the confidence of the mysterious and intriguing lady even as Trowbridge’s grim prediction bears fruit: a British frigate is set afire and its shipwright found with his throat cut.It’s clear that someone is waging a clandestine war of terror and murder. But before Jane can follow the trail of conspiracy to its source and unmask a calculating killer, the cold hand of murder will fall mercilessly yet again—and suddenly Jane may find herself dying for her country.
Elegantly intriguing, Jane and the Ghosts of Netley is a beautifully crafted novel of wit, character, and suspense that transports Jane and her many fans into a mystery of truly historical proportions—and a case that will test the amateur sleuth’s true colors under fire.
Set in the autumn of 1808, Barron's seventh Jane Austen mystery (after 2002's Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House) offers a wonderfully intricate plot full of espionage and intrigue. While admiring the romantic ruins of Netley Abbey on the Southampton coast, the author and sleuth receives a summons from Lord Harold Trowbridge, who asks her to gain the confidence of a suspected French agent, Sophia Challoner, who's taken up residence at Netley Lodge near the ruins. On meeting Sophia, Jane is skeptical that the attractive widow is "the Peninsula's most potent weapon" against the British forces there. When an enemy of England sets fire to a frigate moored at Southampton Water, home of the Royal Navy, and cuts the throat of its shipwright, Jane begins to have doubts that could put herself or someone close to her in deadly peril. Barron effortlessly works in such actual history as the machinations surrounding Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Prince Regent's morganatic wife, and the issue of Catholic Emancipation, along with the domestic arrangements of the Austen household at a time of great family sadness and upheaval. Brief editor's notes unobtrusively elucidate such matters as mourning practices of the day. The Austen voice, both humorous and fanciful, with shades of Northanger Abbey, rings true as always. Once again Barron shows why she leads the pack of neo-Jane Austens, which includes Emma Tennant, Julia Barrett and Elizabeth Aston.