The joys of a marriage are eclipsed by the horror of murder.
Jane Austen is visiting her brother Edward Knight and his daughter Fanny at Godmersham Park in Kent. They are all attending the wedding of Adelaide Fiske, a widow whose first husband was a rake, to Captain MacCallister. The bride nearly faints when a servant brings a wedding gift from a mysterious stranger that contains only tamarind seeds, a reminder of her flamboyant exploits on several continents with her former husband. The next morning a shooting party finds the body of a man. At first they think his death a horrible accident, but Jane quickly realizes that he’s been shot at close range with a pistol. When the body is identified as Curzon Fiske, Adelaide’s first husband, a number of people become suspects, including Adelaide and her entire family. Edward, who is First Magistrate of Canterbury, is not afraid to seek advice from his needle-witted sister, who has repeatedly proved her worth as a crime solver (Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron, 2010, etc.). Jane must follow the twists and turns of an unusually complicated mystery while trying to protect her niece Fanny from the heartbreak of an unsuitable attachment.
Barron writes charmingly in the style of Jane Austen while providing a leisurely exploration of murder and local society in a gothic tale that’s more than equal to Jane’s earlier cases.