The restorative power of the ocean brings Jane Austen and her beloved brother Henry, to Brighton after Henry’s wife is lost to a long illness. But the crowded, glittering resort is far from peaceful, especially when the lifeless body of a beautiful young society miss is discovered in the bedchamber of none other than George Gordon—otherwise known as Lord Byron. As a poet and a seducer of women, Byron has carved out a shocking reputation for himself—but no one would ever accuse him of being capable of murder. Now it falls to Jane to pursue this puzzling investigation and discover just how “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” Byron truly is. And she must do so without falling victim to the charming versifier’s legendary charisma, lest she, too, become a cautionary example for the ages.
In Barron's superb 10th Jane Austen mystery (after 2006's Jane and the Barque of Frailty), the death of a beloved relative prompts the author of Pride and Prejudice and her brother Henry to journey to Brighton in the spring of 1813 in the hope of raising their spirits. En route, Jane and Henry rescue a girl of about 15, Catherine Twining, whom they find with wrists bound with what looks like a gentleman's cravat in a chaise outside an inn. Within days, Catherine turns up dead in Lord Byron's bed at the King's Arms in Brighton, though the poet claims innocence. Gossipy detail concerning Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb seasons the plot, whose pace never feels rushed despite the short time frame. Barron's ability to capture Austen's tone ("one tires of nothing so quickly as benevolence") helps make this series one of the more literary and enjoyable of the pseudo-Austen oeuvre.