Feature

Novel of the week: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

P.D. James has written a first-rate murder mystery with the characters and setting of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as the backdrop.

(Knopf, $26)

At 91, the great P.D. James has just established herself as “heir apparent to Jane Austen’s creative legacy,” said Carol Memmott in USA Today. Many have tried before to emulate the 19th-century legend’s tone and plotting finesse, but the “doyenne of British crime fiction” has outdone them with this “perfect” crime thriller. Six years after the marriages that end Pride and Prejudice, “Mr. Darcy” and his bride, Elizabeth, are living in wedded bliss at Pemberley when Elizabeth’s sister, Lydia, arrives at the estate one night to inform them of the murder of a friend. “Austen fans need no reminder of the trouble Lydia brought to her family” in the original novel. Nothing, apparently, has changed.” James’s “faultless replication” of Austen’s writing style lifts her above “the ever-growing pack” of Austen imitators, said Fran Wood in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. But Death Comes to Pemberley is not just a tribute; it’s a first-rate murder mystery. “The eventual trial will offer twists you won’t see coming.”

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