I am so excited to participate in the blog tour for The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray! I was immediately intrigued by this book for several reasons:
- Fantastic title and cover
- Intriguing description of a murder mystery set in Jane Austen’s England
- All the Jane Austen connections from characters to locations!
This book was so fun! The story is engaging and exciting. I loved having so many favorite Austen characters all together. A delight for Austen fans!
Book Summary: “A summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Jane Austen’s Mr. Wickham—one of literature’s most notorious villains—meets a sudden and suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Austen’s leading literary characters.
The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a party at their country estate, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.
Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In this tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.”
I absolutely loved having so many favorite Austen characters all under one roof. As a longtime Austen fan, I loved the chance to see what could happen if her characters met. What a delight to read about Elizabeth Darcy talking to Emma Knightley. Or Colonel Brandon and Captain Wentworth sharing a moment of military understanding. Or seeing how Mr Knightley and Mr Darcy both care for their younger siblings. Or how Fanny and Edmund Bertrum would interact with people quite different from themselves. Or the next generation of Austen inspired characters in Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney. I loved all the connections to the original stories and how the characters have progressed since their novels’ ends. It was fun to see favorite Highbury characters like Miss Bates and even Frank Churchill. I felt that the essence of Austen’s characters is very well maintained from Fanny Bertram’s timidity to Anne Wentworth’s observation to George Wickham’s wickedness. While it’s difficult to fully develop story arcs for all these characters, our author allows us glimpses into the lives and minds of some of Austen’s most memorable characters.
The author transitions seamlessly between voices, and I enjoyed getting inside everyone’s heads. I love books with multiple perspectives and this one does it so well! It’s illuminating to read what Mr Darcy is thinking or Edmund Bertram’s inner struggle or Marianne Brandon’s personal dialogue. I felt the omniscient narrator was able to build well on the already established characters while giving new, dynamic characters as well. Watching Jonathan and Juliet work together to solve the mystery and understand each other was so engaging. I felt that I was alongside them looking for clues, seeking to understand other people, and gaining wisdom and clarity.
Throughout the novel, thrilling action leads us along the trail of suspects to a surprising climax. I do not read many murder mysteries. But I can certainly see the appeal after devouring this story. I couldn’t turn pages fast enough as I followed the clues with our two young detectives trying to find the killer. There was a nice balance between the murder mystery and classic Jane Austen style. We learn about the quarrels, hardships, grief, pain, joy, and hopes of so many of these characters. Overall, those personal developments fit well into Austen’s world. Only a few times did I feel like their problems burst the Regency bubble that Gray created (a few details felt more modern than Regency). The story got a bit slow for me in the middle, but the climax of the story was satisfying and surprising. I had worried that a favorite Austen character would be made out as a criminal as bad as Wickham himself. However, the killer and revelation of the murder were both revealed with poise. I finished the novel feeling delighted and content.
I really enjoyed getting lost in Gray’s version of Austen’s world. The characters are fantastic and feel like they just stepped off the page of Austen’s novels. The action and mystery were exciting and surprising. An enjoyable delight for all Austen fans!
Who are your favorite Austen characters?
What are some of your favorite Austen inspired novels?
Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She is the writer of multiple young adult novels, including the Evernight series, the Firebird trilogy, and the Constellation trilogy. In addition, she’s written several Star Wars novels, such as Lost Stars and Bloodline. She makes her home in New Orleans with her husband Paul and assorted small dogs.