The Deception at Lyme, or, The Peril of Persuasion

Written by Carrie Bebris
Review by Cecelia Holland

The legendary sea wall in Lyme, called the Cobb, looms over this Austen-flavored mystery, whose sleuths are Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. The plot, as the subtitle intimates, involves mashing together the hero and heroine of one Austen novel with the nasty family of another, always a good game for the seasoned Austen fan.

“There is never a particularly good time to stumble upon a body,” Darcy thinks, stumbling, and thus setting off a complex plot involving murder, lascivious greed, inheritance, the navy, and a lot of little gold objects. In finding out who pushed Mrs. Clay off the Cobb, the Darcys learn also who murdered one of their own family.

This is a complicated bit of work, and the plot comes together in a neat surprise. Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam’s baby daughter, Lilyanne, provides a necessary clue in a deftly captured moment, and Georgiana Darcy as usual is encrusted with suitors whose worth and virtues are not immediately obvious. Carrie Bebris writes gracefully and cleverly, often catching a lovely Austenite nuance: “He had a round face, a rounder gut, and a nose that pointed toward intemperance, but his well-made clothes indicated that he had not abandoned all consciousness of his appearance.” If somehow murder seems as alien to the world of the Darcys as, well, zombies, The Deception at Lyme is a worthy read, and sheer fun for the Austen fan.