Austen Adjacent

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Death comes to Pemberley book cover
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Death Comes to Pemberley, a cozy whodunit

I’m generally a fan of P.D. James’ crime novels (The Murder Room being one of my favorites), so when I heard she wrote a Pride and Prejudice themed mystery, I was intrigued.

I appreciated the short prologue. P.D. James doesn’t linger too long over recanting the events of “Pride and Prejudice,” but gives enough context that anyone could jump right into the story.

Set six years after Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage, the Pemberley estate is preparing for a party. Unfortunately, the arrival of a hysterical Lydia Wickham screaming about murder halts the festivities. “Death Comes to Pemberley” builds on a cast of familiar characters—Darcy, Elizabeth, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Lydia, to name a few—while introducing some new faces and personalities as well.

Wickham continues to be an embarrassment and source of grief for the family, and now he can also add “murder suspect” to his list of faults. There’s lots for Darcy to grapple with in this book as he tries to maintain his family’s reputation, preserve a sense of justice in the case, and deal with his fraught relationship with Wickham at the same time.

Elizabeth’s character is less fleshed out; she spends most of her time adapting to her role as wife, mother and manager of a household the size of the Pemberley estate.

The book’s pacing is sometimes a bit slow, and the mystery is more convoluted than interestingly complex.

Jane Austen purists may not appreciate this adaptation (or any), and fans of P.D. James may be disappointed, as the book does not compare to her other works. But, for those who identify as neither of the above—or land somewhere in the middle—“Death Comes to Pemberley” is an enjoyable, cozy whodunit that is entertaining enough to be worth the read.

It gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.

I plan to watch the PBS Masterpiece show of the same name—if you have any thoughts to share on the show or the book, comment below!