Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron

Written by Stephanie Barron
Review by Jeanne Greene

Jane Austen is getting old. In Barron’s tenth mystery featuring the author of Pride and Prejudice as amateur sleuth, Miss Austen is almost 40, too old to find a husband. Traveling with her newly widowed brother to Brighton, she feels particularly dowdy – black is not her best color. Mourners are conspicuous among the fashionable at the Regency vacation spot; and Jane’s presence is soon noted. When a young woman she recently rescued from Lord Byron’s clutches is found dead, Jane is called upon to find the killer.

Lord Byron is a womanizer. His behavior is execrable. But Jane, stunned by the man’s charisma, doesn‘t think he‘s capable of murder. With the help of influential friends and clever manipulation of contacts, Jane tracks down the real murderer, a man with a very ugly motive.

Jane’s maturity is an asset when moving among the rich and corrupt; her observations are both revealing and wise. Look for the same sly wit. Readers may miss the optimism and hope of the younger Jane – she says she‘s “on the shelf” – but age has not dulled her eye for attractive men. There could still be romance in her future.

For those who never tire of Jane Austen in all her permutations, this is an excellent series. For others, Barron has written two fine historical novels, both standalones, A Flaw in the Blood (2009), and The White Garden (2008). Readers will enjoy both and hope for more.