Everyone loves a good murder mystery. The classic scene where a butler is found dead after the lights suddenly flicker is one that everyone can picture. The thrill of the hunt for the killer is just as exciting as the disappearance of the characters in the plot. As a big fan of Agatha Christie’s mysteries it is no surprise, then, that I was thrilled to read the fourth novel in Tracy Kiely’s Elizabeth Parker mystery series, Murder Most Austen.
Set in present day, Murder Most Austen introduces us to a Miss Elizabeth Parker, an Austen fanatic (aren’t we all!) that is traveling with her Aunt Winnie to an annual Jane Austen conference in Bath, England. On the way to the conference, they meet Professor Richard Baines, a pretentious man who is under the impression that he is the world’s utmost authority on anything Austen related. Spouting rather odd “facts” about Austen and her work, especially a crazy theory as to the actual cause of her death, Baines manages to irritate and annoy not only Elizabeth and her aunt, but almost everyone at the conference as well. Therefore, it is surprising, although not entirely unwelcome, that Mr. Baines is found murdered during the middle of the convention!
Rumors abound as to who is to blame for this murder most foul, and the actual list of suspects is quite large, until poor Aunt Winnie’s friend becomes one of the prime suspects by unfortunate coincidence. Aunt Winnie begs Elizabeth to help her find the actual killer before her friend is framed. Elizabeth, who was hoping to get away from personal problems of her own by attending this trip, finds herself with a whole new set as she tries to find out who really killed odd Professor Baines.
From page one it was evident that I was in for a real treat, as Kiely’s tongue-in-cheek humor made me laugh. The characters that she created were so numerous and full of life that it was easy to picture myself amongst them. I loved Elizabeth’s character, as her strong will and determination in the face of certain adversity (sound like another Elizabeth we know?) made her a joy to read. Additionally, Kiely’s development of the murder plot itself and subsequent hunt for the real killer was executed perfectly, with multiple layers unfolding at a quick pace that left me wanting to turn the pages as fast as possible.
Finally, I think one of the best things about this novel is the fact that although this is the fourth novel in Kiely’s series, it wasn’t imperative that I read the other three prior to this one. This allowed me to jump into the series and get a feel for her writing all the while not being tied to a larger work. I can definitely say that this has made me want to read the rest of series anyway though! Filled with fun, mischief, and mayhem, Murder Most Austen is definitely one to read!
4 out of 5 Stars
Murder Most Austen: A Mystery (Elizabeth Parker Mysteries #4), by Tracy Kiely
Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books (2012)
Hardcover (304) pages
© 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose