The Late Mrs. Willoughby

Vintage. May 2023. 400p. ISBN 9780593313831. pap. $17. M
In this sequel to The Murder of Mr. Wickham, Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney cross paths again, this time in the Derbyshire town of Barton. At his parents’ urging, Darcy reluctantly accepts an invitation from John Willoughby, his chief tormentor at school. Two other former schoolmates were also invited; Willoughby wants an audience as he celebrates his inheritance of Allenham, an estate not far from the home shared by his former love Marianne, now married to Colonel Brandon. The Brandons aren’t the only ones uneasy about the arrival of Willoughby and his wife, as the poisoning of Mrs. Willoughby soon starkly demonstrates. Once again, Jonathan and Juliet put their sleuthing skills to work to unmask her killer. Surrounded by potential suspects and confused about the murderer’s target, the duo must keep their wits about them to protect the innocent, including themselves.
VERDICT Gray continues her homage to Jane Austen with this sequel that wonderfully reimagines the lives of Austen’s characters yet stays faithful to the spirit of the classic works. Readers should be aware there are spoilers from the first novel woven into this story. It’s fun to anticipate the other Austen characters the young sleuths might encounter in future novels.
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