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MURDER AT MANSFIELD PARK by Lynn Shepherd Kirkus Star

MURDER AT MANSFIELD PARK

By Lynn Shepherd

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-63834-4
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Not a sequel to Mansfield Park but a reworking of it as a mystery, with surprising results.

Although Jane Austen’s characters are still in residence, their personalities and stations in life have been changed enough to afford ample opportunity for a murderer to arise from their ranks. Fanny Price, no longer meek and poor, is a spoiled heiress, outwardly charming, inwardly spiteful. Her unofficial engagement to quiet Edward Norris is heavily promoted by Edward’s stepmother and Sir Thomas Bertram, the squire of Mansfield Park, who has raised Fanny as his own daughter. When Henry Crawford arrives with his clever sister Mary to visit and make improvements to the Mansfield grounds, the stage is set for disaster. Mary and Edward develop imprudent feelings for each other, while Fanny, who seems bored with Edward, encourages several suitors. On the eve of inheriting a large fortune, Fanny appears to have eloped with one of her beaux. The discovery of her battered body in a Mansfield ditch is a precursor to more horrors. Henry, the suitor Fanny married, is the most likely suspect for successful London thief taker Mr. Maddox. Mary finds herself in a position to help solve the mystery—if she can make some difficult choices.

First-timer Shepherd remains true to Austen’s style while providing a sound puzzle. Janeites may be delighted or appalled, but more impartial readers will find much to enjoy.