Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
This is the 10th in Stephanie Barron’s “Jane and the…..” series, which is a group of historic mysteries featuring Jane Austen at the center of various crimes and mysteries to be solved. In all of the series, Jane puts her exceptional powers of observation (and knowledge of human nature) to solve the particular crime, and this one involves a young woman found murdered in a rented room in the resort town of Brighton. Adding to the mystery, the young woman appears to have been kidnapped by none other than the famous and infamous poet, Lord Byron.
One of the reasons I love this series is that the author has captured so well the flavor of Jane Austen’s manner of speaking/writing, as well as incorporating lots of period-correct details concerning the historical environment, culture, morals of society, class distinctions and entertainments of the Regency period. (This book also features quite a bit of tidbits about the Prince Regent himself and his voracious appetites for women, food and entertainment.) The book also features Jane’s brother, Henry, who has just lost his wife, the witty and vivacious Eliza de Feuillide, and we get a glimpse into his personality as well.
The mystery is filled with twists and turns which Jane must puzzle out, and I enjoyed Barron’s inclusion of several stanzas from Byron’s poetry that seemingly tie into the plot. This is, of course, fiction but a fun one at that, which manages to slip a lot of information into the reader’s mind as you are busy enjoying the book itself. The character of Lord Byron jumps off the page with all the brooding magnetism that seems to have characterized the man in real life.
If you haven’t read any of these books, do yourself a favor and pick up the first in the series. If you’re already familiar with Barron’s writing, this is another enjoyable volume to add to the “Jane and the….” stable. This is book 20/24 for the Fall Into Reading Challenge, for the prompt “Sequel.”