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Ever read the 1st Jane Austen Society Mystery? Thankfully I missed it otherwise I would never have picked up an advanced copy of the 2nd book, Death and Sensibility.
Even this Janeite couldn’t stomach the book. Hopefully this review will save you the time and money…
Death and Sensibility: A Jane Austen Society Mystery Description
Bookstore owner Erin Coleridge seeks the scoundrel who silenced a conference’s keynote speaker in Elizabeth Blake‘s second charming Jane Austen Society mystery.
When the quaint English town of York hosts a Jane Austen Society conference, bookseller Erin Coleridge is glad to get out of Kirkbymoorside for a while–until featured speaker Barry Wolf suddenly perishes from what appears to be a heart attack.
Erin is suspicious, since Barry had no history of heart disease. But who did him in? Was it the decedent’s assistant, Stephen, who was observed chatting to Barry’s young wife Luca earlier that night? Might it have been Barry’s ex-wife Judith, who was seen arguing with her erstwhile betrothed at the bar? Meanwhile, conference co-chairs Hetty and Prudence have been at one another’s throat since the conference. Is one of them the culprit?
Matters of the heart are putting Erin off her guard. Both Detective Inspector Peter Hemming and schoolteacher Jonathan Alder have made gestures of romantic interest, but Erin isn’t sure who is her Willoughby and who is her Colonel Brandon. DI Hemming tries to persuade Erin that her entanglement in the murder investigation is far from sensible, but his entreaties come to naught. Dauntlessly, Erin joins forces with Kirkbymoorside’s cat lady, Farnsworth, to ferret out the guilty party.
Who is Elizabeth Blake, Author of Death and Sensibility: A Jane Austen Society Mystery?
Elizabeth Blake has written ten published novels, six novellas, and a dozen or so short stories and poems under other pseudonyms. Many of her works appear in translation internationally. Winner of both the Euphoria Poetry Competition and the Eve of St. Agnes Poetry Award, she is a two time Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee and First Prize winner of the Maxim Mazumdar Playwriting Competition, the Chronogram Literary Fiction Prize, Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Award, and the Jean Paiva Memorial Fiction Award. She was a finalist in the McClaren, MSU, and Henrico Playwriting Competitions. She is a Hawthornden Fellow and Writer in Residence at Bydcliffe, Lacawac, and Karun Colonies.
Why was Death and Sensibility: A Jane Austen Society Mystery so Boring?
Allow me to preface this review by stating that I did not ever read the first book. So I was not familiar with any of the characters. However, I don’t think that really would make much of a difference except possibility at the beginning when we are ‘meeting’ all the characters. The author seems to think It would be fun to give a table full of women and men the most random of names which make it hard to remember who is who. At the beginning of the book when the Jane Austen Society gets together at the convention and names are being thrown around like hot cakes, it is difficult to keep them sorted.
Sadly, the difficulty with names is only the least of the issues here. The real travesty of this book is that for a supposed ‘cozy mystery’, there is hardly any sleuthing going on and it moves at a snails pace. And dare I say it but the conclusion seems to come out of the blue without any build up or hurrah. Nor is there much of an explanation give for why the culprit did it.
Also, it took a long time for this reader to warm up to the story’s protagonist, Erin, and her friends and their so-called love interests.
All the characters seem to really do is eat (heck, there is even a dream about eating a scone!) and flirt and quote Jane Austen. Oh gosh, and that’s another thing that drove this Janeite crazy. I get that this is supposed to be a group of Jane Austen scholars and lovers but do they really have to quote the author every other page? It gets pretty old pretty quickly.
Sadly this turned out to be a rather disappointing and sluggish read. The author could easily have chopped a hundred pages of this book and you wouldn’t have missed anything. I would definitely recommend you pass when Death and Sensibility – a Jane Austen Society Mystery is published in August 2021. There are so many other great Jane Austen mysteries and cozy mysteries available.
Disclaimer: I received my advanced copy of Death and Sensibility – a Jane Austen Society Mystery by Elizabeth Blake from NetGalley for review purposes but all opinions are my own.
Suggested Reading: 6 Jane Austen Adaptations to Read that are Clean and Charming