Reviews for Death Comes to Pemberley


Booklist Reviews 2011 December #2
Really, gentle reader, there are limits. When mystery grande dame P. D. James felt the mantle of Jane Austen fall on her shoulders, why didn't she simply shrug it off? Instead, she has produced a straight-faced mystery--no zombies--in which a murdered body is found on the grounds of Darcy and Elizabeth's stately home, Pemberley. James places a template of Austen characters and Austen-like language over a traditional mystery plot and even takes on the role of the omniscient Austen narrator herself. The mystery is set in 1803, six years after the wedding of Elizabeth and Darcy, with ample space given to catching us up on the recent doings of the Bennet family. On the mystery side, there's plenty of action, from the discovery of Captain Denny's body, through a trial, assorted deceptions and mix-ups, and love affairs. Unfortunately, though, if this is meant as an homage, it's a pretty weak cup of tea, starting with a greatly diluted version of Austen's famous "truth universally acknowledged" opening. James' many fans will be pleased to see any kind of new book from the 91-year-old author, but discriminating Austen devotees are unlikely to appreciate the move from social comedy to murder. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This late addition to Knopf's winter list will require some last-minute marketing, but it has two very bankable Englishwomen on its side: Austen and James. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #1
Yes, that's right: Now that she's made her farewells to Adam Dalgliesh (The Private Patient, 2008, etc.), Baroness James has turned to a Jane Austen sequel. Six years after the marriage that ended Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet, are on the eve of giving their annual Lady Anne's Ball when their preparations are complicated first by intimations that Darcy's sister Georgiana is being courted by both her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and rising young lawyer Henry Alveston, then by the Colonel's sudden decision to take his horse for a solitary late-night ride and finally and most disastrously by the unexpected, unwanted arrival of Lizzy's sister Lydia. Bursting from her coach, Lydia shrieks her fears that her husband, Lt. George Wickham, has been murdered by his friend Capt. Martin Denny, whom he followed into the wood when Denny abruptly insisted on abandoning the coach carrying them to Pemberley. In fact it looks very much the other way around: Denny is the one who's dead, and Wickham, bending over his body, blurts out that he killed him. Readers of Pride and Prejudice know that Wickham is a thorough scoundrel, but can he really have murdered his only friend? His averrals that he meant only that his quarrel with Denny sent him out into the wood, where he met his death at unknown hands, don't impress the jurors at the coroner's inquest or the trial that follows. Most of these developments, cloaked in a pitch-perfect likeness of Austen's prose, are ceremonious but pedestrian. The final working-out, however, shows all James' customary ingenuity. The murder story allows only flashes of Austenian wit, and Lizzy is sadly eclipsed by Darcy. But the stylistic pastiche is remarkably accomplished, and it's nice to get brief updates on certain cast members of Persuasion and Emma as a bonus. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
Six years after their marriage, Darcy and Elizabeth have two sons and are settled, very agreeably, at Pemberley. On the eve of their annual ball, a carriage careens wildly toward their door; its hysterical passenger, Eizabeth's sister Lydia Wickham, claims she has witnessed a murder. James's mystery is neither Jane Austen reincarnated nor an Adam Dalgliesh story starring Elizabeth Bennet. Instead, it is a cozy mystery focused on family and investigation, written for readers who relish the prospect of revisiting beloved characters and imagining their happily-ever-after. James offers such readers real pleasures: the prolog is grand, and the letters from Catherine de Bourgh and Mr. Collins are so outstanding that one can imagine James found them among Austen's drafts in some overlooked archive. Unexpected references to characters from Persuasion (Wentworth is now an admiral) and Emma allow for moments of recognition (if some odd breaks in continuity), and many of the characters readers know and treasure remain unchanged. While the mystery element is out of keeping with Austen, one of the novel's minor plotlines is very Austenesque: Darcy's sister Georgiana has blossomed and must decide upon a suitor, either the disapproving Colonel Fitzwilliam (now Viscount Hartlep, and heir to an earldom) or the agreeable Mr. Henry Alveston, a young lawyer on the rise. James is a lovely writer; her restrained pace and vivid depictions of everyday life are similar to Austen's, and her framing elements-particularly Pemberley and its woods, the filling of Bingley's library by Darcy and Mr. Bennet, and the inquest and subsequent trial-put a unique twist on Austen's world. With flashes of Austen's wit and her own distinctive take on the golden age mystery, James stands out in the crowded world of Austen redux. (See also Wyatt's World: Creating RA Trilogies for Readers, featuring Death Comes to Pemberley and two Austen titles.) - "RA Crossroads," LJ Reviews 1/5/2012 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 December #2

Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage to the author of Pride and Prejudice from MWA Grand Master James, best known for her Adam Dalgliesh detective series (The Private Patient, etc.). In the autumn of 1803, six years after the events that closed Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Darcy, the happily married mistress of Pemberley House, is preparing for Lady Anne's annual ball, "regarded by the county as the most important social event of the year." Alas, the evening before the ball, Elizabeth's sister Lydia, who married the feckless Wickham, bursts into the house to announce that Captain Denny, a militia officer, has shot her husband dead in the woodland on the estate. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who purists may note behaves inconsistently with Austen's original, head out in a chaise to investigate. Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets, not least of them in the august Darcy family. In contrast to Pride and Prejudice, where emotion is typically conveyed through indirect speech, characters are much more open about their feelings, giving a contemporary ring to James's pleasing and agreeable sequel. 300,000 first printing. Agent: Carol Heaton, Greene & Heaton Ltd. (Dec.)

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 December #3

Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage to the author of Pride and Prejudice from MWA Grand Master James, best known for her Adam Dalgliesh detective series (The Private Patient, etc.). In the autumn of 1803, six years after the events that closed Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Darcy, the happily married mistress of Pemberley House, is preparing for Lady Anne's annual ball, "regarded by the county as the most important social event of the year." Alas, the evening before the ball, Elizabeth's sister Lydia, who married the feckless Wickham, bursts into the house to announce that Captain Denny, a militia officer, has shot her husband dead in the woodland on the estate. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who purists may note behaves inconsistently with Austen's original, head out in a chaise to investigate. Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets, not least of them in the august Darcy family. In contrast to Pride and Prejudice, where emotion is typically conveyed through indirect speech, characters are much more open about their feelings, giving a contemporary ring to James's pleasing and agreeable sequel. 300,000 first printing. Agent: Carol Heaton, Greene & Heaton Ltd. (Dec.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage to the author of Pride and Prejudice from MWA Grand Master James, best known for her Adam Dalgliesh detective series (The Private Patient, etc.). In the autumn of 1803, six years after the events that closed Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Darcy, the happily married mistress of Pemberley House, is preparing for Lady Anne's annual ball, "regarded by the county as the most important social event of the year." Alas, the evening before the ball, Elizabeth's sister Lydia, who married the feckless Wickham, bursts into the house to announce that Captain Denny, a militia officer, has shot her husband dead in the woodland on the estate. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who purists may note behaves inconsistently with Austen's original, head out in a chaise to investigate. Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets, not least of them in the august Darcy family. In contrast to Pride and Prejudice, where emotion is typically conveyed through indirect speech, characters are much more open about their feelings, giving a contemporary ring to James's pleasing and agreeable sequel. 300,000 first printing. Agent: Carol Heaton, Greene & Heaton Ltd. (Dec.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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