Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful murder mystery set over the twelve days of a Regency-Era Christmas party.
Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.
Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?
Early in Barron's enchanting 12th Jane Austen mystery (after 2011's Jane and the Canterbury Tale), Jane receives a letter dated Dec. 25, 1814, from Elizabeth Chute, the wife of a prominent member of Parliament, inviting her and her family to come stay for a few days at the Vyne. Jane is pleased to leave Steventon Parsonage "to join the Christmas gaieties at one of the first houses in the neighborhood," even if Mary, the wife of her brother James, complains that it's a "great, old, draughty place." On the Feast of St. Stephan, Lt. John Gage arrives at the Vyne from Ghent, bearing the signed peace treaty that has ended the War of 1812. The next day, Gage breaks his neck after falling from his horse, and the treaty disappears. Vivid characters propel the subtle plot to its surprising conclusion. The first-person narration captures Austen's tone as revealed in her letters: candid, loving, and occasionally acerbic.