This volume, with Jane Austen cast as the detective, by Stephanie Barron, is eerie and hard and with several instances of real violence. And with George Gordon, Lord Byron, cast as the anti-hero. Of all the series, this is the toughest and most hard-boiled.
Knowing Stephanie Barron as being a stickler for detail (all these mysteries are set in days and times when Jane really was in each of the various cities and areas of England), I just checked Wikipedia for Lord Byron. And it turns out he really was as awful – nearly a monster – as Barron depicts him. Violent is one of the key words throughout the wiki info.
And violent he is in this book, all charm one moment, and violent in word and deed the next. His treatment of women would have him in prison today. Perhaps those powerful and beautiful poetic works would not have been written.
We also get an intriguing picture of the death and mourning rituals in Britain at that time, and get to see the seaside at Brighton at high season, with all of the highest crust of society bathing in their weird machines – dipping into the ocean without actually being seen. Much fun in that social commentary – how the rich do Brighton.
Lord Byron does not turn out to have been the actual murderer of the young woman who is the victim in this book. The answer as to who did it is quite shocking.
Another great work from Stephanie Barron, whose voice in the book is totally Jane Austen’s – in tone, in thought, and in detection.