Jane Austen outthinks a Bow Street runner to solve an 1811 murder.
London is aghast. In the theater, just as bold as if her scandalous letters to Lord Castlereagh hadn’t been published in the Morning Post, sits Russian Princess Evgenia Tscholikova, staring longingly at her lover’s box. Nor is this her worst breach of decorum. At four the next morning, her body is sprawled on the marble steps of her supposed lover’s townhouse, her throat slit. The Bow Street Chief Constable thinks it’s suicide, but rising novelist Jane Austen, visiting her brother and sister-in-law at their Sloane Square townhouse, is unconvinced. She suspects the former Tory minister’s enemies may be framing him. Jane is forced to investigate when she and her sister-in-law come under suspicion. Jewelry they try to sell for the impoverished, divorcing Comtesse d’Entraigues turns out to belong to the dead princess. Intrigue swirls around the beautiful young jade Julia Radcliffe, but before Jane clarifies who slept with whom, she must sort through tsarist, Bonapartist, Whig and Tory politics and the infamous Peninsula Campaign by rereading the journals of her deceased friend Lord Harold (Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy, 2005, etc.) and, immodestly attired, attend the Cyprian’s Ball.
Charming, literate and unequaled in its dissection of Regency-era social injustices, with an emphasis on the avenues to solvency and independence available to ruined women (those barques).