Jane and the Ghosts of Netley
Seventh in Barron’s series of historical suspense novels featuring Jane Austen as an amateur sleuth, this is a well-crafted melding of wit, character, and mystery. It opens with Jane wandering the ruins of Netley Abbey, where she has been summoned to meet with her friend Lord Harold Trowbridge. Lord Harold requests Jane’s assistance in uncovering a possible traitor who could be responsible for attacks on the English navy.
Barron’s Jane is the narrator, in a style vividly reminiscent of Austen’s real work; her characters and their dialogue are spot-on. Occasional footnotes by the “Editor” provide details on Austen’s real family, historical events of the period, and the customs and manners of English Regency society. Readers seeking a modern page-turning thriller may be disappointed; the Austen style, wit, and period details provide the interest, although more than one mystery is revealed in the end. Kinuko Craft’s cover art evokes the desired atmosphere in an attractively produced volume.