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Published on January 30th, 2013 | by The Town Crier


Book Review – Death comes to Pemberley, by P. D. James

In a sequel to the classic Austen novel, ‘Pride and prejudice’, P. D. James endeavours to put a new spin on the tiresomeness of aristocratic life at the Darcies’ digs by setting the proverbial ‘cat among the pigeons’ – murder is afoot, as the title may well hint at.

Set six years after the much deplored marriage of one Fitzwilliam Darcy to an Elizabeth Bennet, this period whodunit follows the events after George Wickham is found blood-soaked and rather worse for wares in the woods, next to his recently deceased friend, Captain Denny. Imitating, and at some points improving, the prose used by Austen, James tells a captivating story of life (and death) at the much fantasized-about house we all know and love.

However, for fans of the classic Elizabeth Bennet, one may find her a little less sharp-tongued – she seems to have been tamed a little by married life and the arrival of two-set-to-be three children. Well, what is one to expect, when all seems to be going rather well for the couple? There isn’t nearly so much outrage from disapproving Aunts, and this murder business, although thoroughly shocking, fades a little throughout the book. If you read for excitement, the thrill of the chase and tracking down clues this one may seem a little lax. Rather than a full blown detective story, this book tries to encompass the world of Austen, as well as telling the tale of a frankly trifling murder, as one of the aristocracy might say. If you like the guts and the gore, you’re best to stick to your Henning Mankells.

Nevertheless, Death comes to Pemberley provides a long overdue and competent sequel to a classic, and is a pleasure to read, for fans old and new. It’s best, I find, if you revisit the classic before reading this latest edition, as there are some subtleties one may not pick out if you’re not careful. Enjoy!

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