Preview of Murder Most Austen: A Mystery, by Tracy Kiely

Darcy VS Hathaway ???

My faithful readers will know how much I love a good mystery. I follow the Masterpiece Mystery series Inspector Lewis on PBS with a bloody passion, and when I am not reading Austenesque books, I can be found with my nose in a good whodunit. If pressed I will admit with reluctance that Mr. Darcy would win in a throw down against Sargent Hathaway. Now, if it was Henry Tilney vs. Hathaway, well that’s a no brainer.

Some of favorite mystery authors are: Tasha Alexander, Dashiell Hammett, Jacqueline Winspear, Alexander McCall Smith and Georgette Heyer. Top on my mysteries “to be read” list is Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Highly recommended by Austenesque author Diana Birchall (Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma), it is one of her all-time favorite books no less. How could I have missed it?

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge 2011Occasionally, authors indulge me and combine my two favorite diversions: mystery and Jane Austen. It is like a left, right punch to my reading sensibilities. I get a bit light headed at the thought of it. I have devoured all eleven Stephanie Barron’s Being A Jane Austen Mystery Series and all six of Carrie Bebris’ Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries as they arrived. Now I am in for a treat. The fourth Elizabeth Parker Mysteries by Tracy Kiely is due out tomorrow, September 4th. I am all anticipation…

Murder Most Austen is set in the historic Georgian-era spa town of Bath, England (deep into Janeite territory) where Elizabeth Parker and her Aunt Winnie (who we were first introduced to in Murder at Longbourn) meet an odious professor who claims that Austen’s texts have hidden sexual subplots (take note Arnie Perlstein) and that Austen’s death was not by natural causes (yes, you too Lindsay Ashford). LOL. Is this art imitating life, or, Kiely’s tongue-in-cheek jab at modern Austen culture? Anyway, the pompous professor is bumped off while wearing his Mr. Darcy costume during a ball. Poetic justice you ask? You be the judge. Here is the publisher’s description:

Murder Most Austen, by Tracy Kiely (2012)A dedicated Anglophile and Janeite, Elizabeth Parker is hoping the trip to the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath will distract her from her lack of a job and her uncertain future with her boyfriend, Peter.

On the plane ride to England, she and Aunt Winnie meet Professor Richard Baines, a self-proclaimed expert on all things Austen. His outlandish claims that within each Austen novel there is a sordid secondary story is second only to his odious theory on the true cause of Austen’s death. When Baines is found stabbed to death in his Mr. Darcy costume during the costume ball, it appears that Baines’s theories have finally pushed one Austen fan too far. But Aunt Winnie’s friend becomes the prime suspect, so Aunt Winnie enlists Elizabeth to find the professor’s real killer. With an ex-wife, a scheming daughter-in-law, and a trophy wife, not to mention a festival’s worth of die-hard Austen fans, there are no shortage of suspects.

This fourth in Tracy Kiely’s charming series is pure delight. If Bath is the number-one Mecca for Jane Austen fans, Murder Most Austen is the perfect read for those who love some laughs and quick wit with their mystery.

Excerpt of Murder Most Austen


There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.” —PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

IF I HAD KNOWN that someone was going to kill the man sitting in 4B three days hence, I probably wouldn’t have fantasized about doing the deed myself.


However, as it stood, I didn’t have this knowledge. The only knowledge I did have was that he was a pompous ass and had not stopped talking once in the last two hours.

“Of course, only the truly clever reader can discern that it is beneath Austen’s superficial stories that the real narrative lies. Hidden beneath an attractive veil of Indian muslin, Austen presents a much darker world. It is a sordid world of sex, both heterosexual and homosexual, abortions, and incest. It is in highlighting these darker stories to the less perceptive reader that I have devoted my career,” the man was now saying to his seatmate.

I guessed him to be in his late fifties. He was tall and fair, with those WASPy good looks that lend themselves well to exclusive men’s clubs, the kinds that still exclude women and other dangerous minorities. His theories were so patently absurd that at first I’d found his commentary oddly entertaining. However, as Austen herself observed, of some delights, a little goes a long way.

This was rapidly becoming one of those delights.

From the manner in which the young woman to his right gazed at him with undisguised awe, it was clear that she did not share my desire to duct-tape his mouth shut. Her brown eyes were not rolling back into her head with exasperation; rather, they were practically sparkling with idolization from behind her wire-framed glasses. While both our faces were flushed from his words, the cause for the heightened color on her elfin features stemmed from reverence; the cause of mine was near-boiling irritation.

Read the full excerpt

Watch for Austenprose’s Kimberly Denny-Ryder’s review of Murder Most Austen to be posted here on Wednesday, September 12th.

Read our previous reviews of Tracy Kiely’s Elizabeth Parker Mysteries

Murder Most Austen: A Mystery (Elizabeth Parker Mysteries #4), by Tracy Kiely
Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books (2012)
Hardcover (304) pages
ISBN: 978-1250007421

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
© Tracy Kiely, Macmillan

12 thoughts on “Preview of Murder Most Austen: A Mystery, by Tracy Kiely

Add yours

  1. Hmm, these sound interesting. I’d not heard of them before, probably because I tend to look more at kindle titles. I’ll have to remember to look in the real book section too!


  2. Oh.My. Darcy vs Hathaway. Other than the whole wet shirt thing, how about Hathaway (sorry, I cannot think of his name!) AS Darcy! :-) Have you seen Inspector Morse? I highly recommend! Love the BBC productions that end up on Masterpiece.

    I digress.

    I love the mystery sub-genre of fan fiction! I enjoyed the first book in the Elizabeth Parker series, I’ll have to get to the rest soon. And then re-read Stephanie Barron & Carrie Bebris. And then put Lewis back on my Netflix queue. *sigh*


  3. The entire Dorothy L Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane series are delightful. While I agree Gaudy Night is my favorite, I would recommend one start at at the beginning of the series with Strong Poison. Masterpiece Mystery had filmed them in the 80s.


    1. I love these film adaptations, too, and my favorite is Gaudy Night. It is an interesting Austen connection that Harriet Walter, who plays Harriet Vane in the Sayers films, also played the role of Fanny Dashwood in Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility


  4. Laurel Ann, I’m sure the last thing you need is another recommended mystery to add to your “to-be-read” pile, but “The Chill” (1964) by Ross Macdonald is very special. It’s the best, most satisfying, mystery I ever read — no padding, no “red herrings” — when the private eye (Lew Archer) walks into a room and observes pictures and knick-knacks, every detail contributes to the plot — the end evokes one of the great classic Greek tragedies (retold in terms of 1960s California). Macdonald was considered the heir to Raymond Chandler ==>


  5. Yes, Laurel Ann, I did take note of Tracy Kiely’s new Austen pastiche the other day when another Janeite friend pointed out the distinct possibility that the pompous prof was modeled on me. Upon perusing chapter 1, I thought it was more than a possibility, so I contacted Tracy Kiely and introduced myself as the real life model for “Professor Baines” , but she said that was not the case, she had made that character and his theories up out of her own fertile imagination.
    Either way, it was amusing to read Chapter 1, and I hope it helps bring my actual claims about Jane Austen’s shadow stories, which diverge in crucial ways from the fictional professor’s formulations, to the attention of a wider Janeite audience.

    The idea of Jane dying of syphilis is very clever, by the way– I never thought of it, but it fits very nicely with the Jane Austen Code as I have sleuthed it out.

    @JaneAustenCode on Twitter


  6. Love Inspector Lewis as much for the chemistry between the two actors as for the plot. It doesn’t hurt to have the gorgeous background of Oxford. My favorite writer in this genre is Raymond Chandler. You can “taste” the dirt in his stories.


  7. I love Inspector Lewis as much for the chemistry between the two actors as for the plots. It doesn’t hurt to have the picturesque Oxford as a backdrop. My favorite author in this genre is Raymond Chandler. You can “taste” the dirt in his stories. I’ve read Tracy’s Murder at Longbourn and enjoyed it. I’ll have to check out her latest. Happy Labor Day!


  8. Oooooh-a new author to catch up with! And I have recently been introduced to Alexander McCall Smith via my book club. We read the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. So he writes whodunits, too. Good to know.


  9. I have Tracy Kiely’s most recent book in my TBR pile and will bring it to the top quickly. I enjoyed her two previous books. Alexander McCall Smith hasn’t written a book that I haven’t enoyed, and I’ve read every single one of his books, including the Scots version of the first detective story of Precious Ramotswe. I highly recommend all of his books, though off topic of our dear Jane’s books. Tracy Kiely writes good books with relation to Jane Austen and I won’t miss any of them. And, Inspector Hathaway is a head turner. Did you know that he is married to Billie Piper of Dr. Who and most recently of Mansfield Park? Just a fun factoid.


  10. I haven’t heard of this series myself, but I loved the review & the excerpt. Definitley adding to my to-read list! :)


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