[James's] innovation has been to transplant the dramatis personae from Austen into her own suspenseful universe, preserving their likenesses and life force…The greatest pleasure of this novel is its unforced, effortless, effective voice. James hasn't written in florid cod-Regency whorls, the overblown language other mimics so often employ. Not infrequently, while reading Death Comes to Pemberley, one succumbs to the impression that it is Austen herself at the keyboard.
Liesl Schillinger - New York Times Book Review
While many writers have composed sequels to the various Austen masterpieces, James manages to preserve the flavor of Pride and Prejudice while also creating a fairly good whodunit…This is a novel one reads for its charm, for the chance to revisit some favorite characters, for the ingenious way James reworks—or resolves—old elements from Austen…It is a solidly entertaining period mystery and a major treat for any fan of Jane Austen.
Michael Dirda - Washington Post
(Starred review.) 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.
Readers of Pride and Prejudice know that Wickham is a thorough scoundrel, but can he really have murdered his only friend?... Most of [the] 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.
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