Pride, Prejudice, and Poison. (A Jane Austen Society Mystery #1) Elizabeth Blake. 2019. 330 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: “‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a husband,’” whispered Farnsworth Appleby.
Premise/plot: When one of the members of the Jane Austen Society is murdered--POISONED--the small village of Kirkbymoorside in Yorkshire is turned upside down. Erin Coleridge, the owner of a used bookstore, takes it upon herself to do her own investigating. It's not that she doesn't trust the police inspectors or detectives, but, with almost all her friends and acquaintances present at the scene of the crime--she herself was present--she wants to catch the murderer and protect her closest friends.
My thoughts: I enjoyed Pride, Prejudice, and Poison. It was a well-fleshed out mystery, in my opinion.
What did I like about it? Well, I liked the characterization and the plotting. I LOVED getting to know the characters. Blake has peopled a small village or community. And it feels lived in. The relationships seem complex--the work of years, decades, of knowing one another. Erin has lived there for years--but even she doesn't know *everything* there is to know about her neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. I loved the focus on genuine friendships among women. And it was lovely to see all the Austen quotes woven into the dialogue.
The plotting/pacing. I really enjoyed this one. I LOVED that I was kept guessing and that the list of suspects was LONG. I didn't feel the murderer was super-obvious from the get go, from the moment the body is found. (I *hate* when I guess who did it before the body even has a chance to cool.) I loved the steady-supply of clues and the increasing suspense that builds because everyone knows the murderer is still on the loose. There were times when Erin was about to eat or drink something and I was like ARE YOU SURE YOU REALLY WANT TO DO THIS?! WHAT IF THIS PERSON SMILING AND OFFERING YOU FOOD IS REALLY THE MURDERER?
I did guess the murderer--in the last seventy-five pages or so. But even then I wasn't 100% sure--just mostly-mostly sure. So she kept me hooked throughout. I didn't find this mystery tiresome.
I would say that I did feel it was a little tricksy to put a cat on the cover of this one when cat(s) didn't really play any role in the book. (One character did own multiple cats, I believe, but the cats weren't really present for most of the book. There were a few scenes maybe? And if I remember correctly the cats had Austen-related names.)
This one offers a little romance. But the romance never takes center stage. (Not really.)
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