A much-anticipated trip to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath becomes a nightmare for an amateur sleuth.
Elizabeth Parker (Murder Most Persuasive, 2011, etc.) is out of a job, living with her cranky sister and unsure whether she wants to commit to her current boyfriend. A trip to England with her beloved Aunt Winnie, a fellow Jane-ite, seems just the ticket to cheer her up, but things go wrong from the minute they meet Professor Richard Baines on the plane. The obnoxious Baines, who contends that all Austen’s novels conceal scandalous hidden stories, plans to present a paper at the meeting claiming that the author herself died of syphilis. Elizabeth and Winnie enjoy a day exploring London and a night at Claridge’s Hotel until they run into Cora Beadle, another Jane-ite, and her stunningly beautiful daughter, Izzy. Cora is so angry with the news about Baines that she threatens to kill him. When he’s found dead after a fancy dress ball in Bath, Cora is the obvious suspect. When Winnie, who’s sure that her old friend is not a killer, asks her niece to investigate, Elizabeth isn’t surprised to learn that the outspoken professor had quite a few people angry with him, beginning with his ex-wife, his son, his hard-as-nails daughter-in-law and the graduate student with whom he’d been having an affair. As she digs up more dirt, Elizabeth makes herself a target.
A light, enjoyable read with just enough homicide to ballast the Austen quotations Elizabeth and Winnie keep swapping.