MYSTERY

Jane and the Waterloo Map: Being a Jane Austen Mystery

Soho Crime. Feb. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9781616954253. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616954260. M
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This latest delightful Jane Austen whodunit (after Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas) finds the author and sometime sleuth in London on the eve of her 40th birthday tending to her convalescing brother, Henry. A diversion arrives with HRH the Prince Regent's invitation to tour his private library, but the serenity of the bookish setting is shattered by Jane's discovery of a poisoned soldier choking out the words "Waterloo map." Col. Ewan MacFarland was a hero of that recent battle, and Jane soon finds the map tucked within a library shelf. That sends her on the hunt for MacFarland's killer and the provenance of the sketch, a pursuit that reunites her with dashing painter Raphael West and threatens to put them both in mortal danger.
VERDICT As usual, Barron deftly imitates Austen's voice, wit, and occasional melancholy while spinning a well-researched plot that will please historical mystery readers and Janeites everywhere. Jane Austen died two years after the events of Waterloo; one hopes that Barron conjures a few more adventures for her beloved protagonist before historical fact suspends her fiction.

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