Jane Austen Mysteries

Jane and the Final Mystery

Book 15 now available

The final volume of the critically acclaimed mystery series featuring Jane Austen as amateur sleuth

March 1817: As winter turns to spring, Jane Austen’s health is in slow decline, and threatens to cease progress on her latest manuscript. But when her nephew Edward brings chilling news of a death at his former school, Winchester College, not even her debilitating ailment can keep Jane from seeking out the truth. Arthur Prendergast, a senior pupil at the prestigious all-boys’ boarding school, has been found dead in a culvert near the schoolgrounds—and in the pocket of his drenched waistcoat is an incriminating note penned by the young William Heathcote, the son of Jane’s dear friend Elizabeth. Winchester College is a world unto itself, with its own language and rites of passage, cruel hazing and dangerous pranks. Can Jane clear William’s name before her illness gets the better of her?

Over the course of fourteen previous novels in the critically acclaimed Being a Jane Austen Mystery series, Stephanie Barron has won the hearts of thousands of fans—crime fiction aficionados and Janeites alike—with her tricky plotting and breathtaking evocation of Austen’s voice. Now, she brings Jane’s final season—and final murder investigation—to brilliant, poignant life in this unforgettable conclusion.

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“Barron’s poignant 15th and final whodunit featuring Jane Austen as a sleuth… elicits deep emotion out of Jane’s struggles against her own mortality. This is a fitting send-off for a beautifully realized series.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review (Read full review)
“Barron developed Jane’s narrative voice by reading Austen’s collected and published letters, and it is neither spoiler nor surprise to say that series readers will be sorry to say goodbye to Jane Austen, amateur sleuth.”
“Jane investigates like a determined novelist cutting through a thicket of plot . . . If this is indeed Jane’s final mystery, then she departs in a fittingly graceful fashion.”
—Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal (Read full review)
“The real joy of these books is how Barron recreates the witty, coded language of the Georgian era and incorporates historical material about the Austen family, gleaned from the correspondence its members left behind. Verily, the books are fictitious but they feel like they pull back the curtains on Austen’s real life better than any biography could.”
Star Tribune (Read full review)
“Barron demonstrates once again that framing this mystery series within the nature of an intelligent and witty woman can bring 1817 back to life in an engaging and well-spun narrative.”
New York Journal of Books (Read full review)
“Barron has mastered writing in Austen’s voice as well as crafting page-turning mystery plots.”
Boulder Weekly (Read full review)
“[Barron] has brilliantly combined authentic historical and biographical details with skillful plotting and a credible evocation of Austen’s wry, distinctive voice. She brings the English author’s final investigation to a poignant, unforgettable close. Fans of this historical series will not be disappointed.”
First Clue (Read full review)
“Poignant, compelling, and uplifting.”
Austenprose (Read full review)

Jane and the Year Without a Summer

Book 14

May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript—about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain—cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra.

Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however. It is immediately obvious that other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own—some of them deadly. But perhaps with Jane’s interference a terrible crime might be prevented. Set during the Year without a Summer, when the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific caused a volcanic winter that shrouded the entire planet for sixteen months, this fourteenth installment in Stephanie Barron’s critically acclaimed series brings a forgotten moment of Regency history to life.

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“Outstanding. Barron fans will hope Jane, who died in 1817, will be back for one more mystery.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Jane and the Waterloo Map

Book 13

November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises.

However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.

“A well-crafted narrative with multiple subplots drives Barron’s splendid 13th Jane Austen mystery… Austenites will enjoy the imaginative power with which Barron spins another riveting mystery…”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Writing in the form of Jane’s diaries, Barron has spun a credible tale from a true encounter, enhanced with meticulous research and use of period vocabulary.”
“With a keen sense of plot—the identity of the villain surprises—perfect pitch for Austen’s voice and a cast of new and familiar characters, Barron has again produced a pleasant excursion into literate and historical escapism.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Book 12

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?

“[A]n excellent period mystery for all historical fiction fans…”
Library Journal, Starred Review
“Vivid characters propel the subtle plot to its surprising conclusion.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Jane and the Canterbury Tale

Book 11

Three years ago, after a night of reckless gaming, Curzon Fiske fled England for an uncertain future in India, leaving scandal and prodigious debts behind him. When news of his death from fever in Ceylon reached his raven-haired wife, Adelaide, she mourned him for a time—then quietly restored her damaged reputation.

Now Adelaide is at the altar again, her groom a soldier on the Marquis of Wellington’s staff. The prospects seem bright for one of the most notorious women in Kent—until Jane Austen discovers a corpse on the ancient Pilgrim’s Way that runs through her brother Edward’s estate. Why is the dead stranger dressed as a pilgrim, and who wrote the summons he carries in his pocket? Who is the aristocrat masquerading as a sailor? And why will none of Adelaide’s friends reveal Curzon Fiske’s final wager, the night he abandoned his wife? As Chief Magistrate for Canterbury, Edward is forced to investigate, with Jane as his unwilling assistant. From the shooting parties and balls of her wellborn neighbors, to the grim and airless cells of Canterbury gaol, Jane leaves no stone unturned. When a second corpse appears beside the ancient Pilgrim’s Way, Jane has no choice but to confront a murderer…lest the next corpse be her own….

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“The pitch-perfect historical details, the believably Austenian prose and the opportunity to pretend that this story actually was the life of this delightful author couldn’t be more addictive.”
—Nathalie Gorman, Oprah.com
“Janeites will be pleased to see that Barron highlights the Austen family dynamic…. They’ll also enjoy tracing the parallels between the many distinctive characters and the inspiration for them in Austen’s originals.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Barron writes charmingly in the style of Jane Austen while providing a leisurely exploration of murder and local society.”
“Barron channels Jane Austen beautifully…. Austen fans, cozy lovers, and historical-mystery readers will all enjoy this delightful story.”
“The words, the phrases, the folkways of Regency England are so real that you wonder whether if Barron goes home at night and says such things to her husband.”
The Denver Post

“…a fast, engaging read…. And you don’t have to be an Austen fan to enjoy them.”
Romance Reviews Today

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron

Book 10

The restorative power of the ocean draws Jane Austen and her beloved brother Henry to the seaside, after Henry’s wife Eliza is lost to a long illness. But Brighton, a glittering resort overrun by London’s Fashionables, is scarcely peaceful. Not long after their arrival, Jane finds herself caught up in the town’s turmoil when the body of a beautiful young society miss is discovered, lifeless, in the bedchamber of none other than George Gordon—otherwise known as Lord Byron.

Byron has already carved out a shocking reputation for himself, both as a poet and as a seducer of women—swooning legions of whom seem to follow wherever he treads. Yet until this moment, no one thought him capable of murder. Now it falls to Jane to pursue this puzzling investigation and discover just how “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” Byron truly is. And she must do so without falling victim to the charming versifier’s legendary charisma, lest she too become a cautionary example for the ages.

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“Barron’s ability to capture Austen’s tone helps make this series one of the more literary and enjoyable of the pseudo-Austen oeuvre.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred review
“As always, Barron does an excellent job of capturing Austen’s first-person voice, and she gives lavish attention, as well, to period detail.”

Jane and the Barque of Frailty

Book 9

On the heels of completing Sense and Sensibility, Jane heads to Sloane Street for a monthlong visit with her brother Henry and his wife, Eliza. Hobnobbing with the Fashionable Great at the height of the Season, Jane is well aware of their secrets and peccadilloes. But even she is surprised when the intimate correspondence between a Russian princess and a prominent Tory minister is published in the papers for all to see. More shocking, the disgraced beauty is soon found with her throat slit on Lord Castlereagh’s very doorstep.

Everyone who’s anyone in high society is certain the spurned princess committed the violence upon herself. But Jane is unconvinced. Nor does she believe the minister guilty of so grisly and public a crime. Jane, however, is willing to let someone else investigate—until a quirk of fate thrusts her and Eliza into the heart of the case… as prime suspects!

Striking a bargain with the authorities, Jane secures seven days to save herself and Eliza from hanging. But as her quest to unmask a killer takes her from the halls of government to the drawing rooms of London’s most celebrated courtesan, only one thing is sure: her failure will not only cut short her life. It could lead to England’s downfall.

A compulsively readable, uncommonly elegant novel of historical suspense, Jane and the Barque of Frailty once again proves Jane Austen a sleuth to be reckoned with.

“Satisfying right to the last revelation…. The author excels at both period detail and modern verve…. Sparkling.”
Publishers Weekly
“This is great fun for Austen fans who like a little mystery with their manners.”
Rocky Mountain News

Jane and his Lordship’s Legacy

Book 8

In her latest enthralling adventure, Jane Austen finds herself the beneficiary of a most unusual legacy—and at the heart of a baffling case of avarice, adventure, and multiple murders. But first she must unravel the secrets of one of England’s most trusted confidants and fascinating scoundrels… the man she loved. It’s with a heavy heart that Jane Austen takes up a new residence at Chawton Cottage in Hampshire. Secretly mourning the lost love of her life, she’s stunned to learn that the late Lord Harold Trowbridge has made her the heir to an extraordinary bequest: a Bengal chest filled with his diaries, letters, and most intimate correspondence. From these, Jane is expected to write a memoir of the Gentleman Rogue for posterity. But before she can put pen to paper on this labor of love, she discovers a corpse in the cellar of her new home.

The dead man was a common laborer, and a subsequent coroner’s examination shows he was murdered elsewhere and transported to Chawton Cottage. Suddenly Jane and her family are thrust into the center of a brewing scandal in this provincial village that doesn’t take kindly to outsiders in general—and to the Austens in particular.

And just as Jane glimpses a connection between the murder and the shattering truth concealed somewhere in Lord Harold’s papers, violent death strikes yet another unsuspecting victim. Suddenly there are suspects and motives everywhere Jane looks—local burglaries, thwarted passions, would-be knights, and members of the royal family itself who want Lord Harold hushed… even in death. As the tale of one man’s illustrious life unfolds—a life that runs a parallel course to the history of two continents—Jane races against time to catch a cunning killer before more innocent lives are taken. But her determination to protect Lord Harold’s legacy could exact the costliest price of all: her own life.

Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy is historical suspense writing at its finest, graced with the insight, perception, and uncommon intelligence of its singular heroine in a mystery that will test the mettle of her mind and her heart.

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“Barron has masterfully imitated Austen’s voice.”
Publishers Weekly

Jane and the Ghosts of Netley

Book 7

Colorado Book Award finalist

In her seventh captivating adventure, Jane Austen finds her crime-solving mettle put to the test in a confounding case of intrigue, murder, and high treason. Among the haunted ruins of an ancient abbey, Jane is drawn into a shadow world of dangerous secrets and traitorous hearts where not only her life is at stake—but the fate of England.

As Jane Austen stands before the abandoned ruins of Netley Abbey, she imagines that ghosts really do haunt the centuries-old monastery. But the green-cloaked figure who startles her is all too human and he bears an unexpected missive from Lord Harold Trowbridge, one of the British government’s most trusted advisers—and a man who holds a high place in Jane’s life.

Trowbridge tells Jane about a suspected traitor in their midst—and the disastrous consequences if she succeeds. But is Sophia Challoner, a beautiful widow with rumored ties to Emperor Bonaparte, really an agent of the enemy? Dispatched to Netley Lodge, Jane seets about gaining the confidence of the mysterious and intriguing lady even as Trowbridge’s grim prediction bears fruit: a British frigate is set afire and its shipwright found with his throat cut.

It’s clear that someone is waging a clandestine war of terror and murder. But before Jane can follow the trail of conspiracy to its source and unmask a calculating killer, the cold hand of murder will fall mercilessly yet again—and suddenly Jane may find herself dying for her country.

Elegantly intriguing, Jane and the Ghosts of Netley is a beautifully crafted novel of wit, character, and suspense that transports Jane and her many fans into a mystery of truly historical proportions—and a case that will test the amateur sleuth’s true colors under fire.

Read the first chapter

Entertainment Weekly
“Barron writes a lively adventure that puts warm flesh on historical bones. The nice thing is she does so in a literary style that would not put Jane Austen’s nose out of joint.”
The New York Times Book Review
“…deft marshaling of historical detail…. scrupulously faithful to the historical record…”
Time Magazine

Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House

Book 6

In her sixth engrossing outing, Jane Austen employs her delicious wit and family ties to the Royal Navy in a case of murder on the high seas. Somewhere in the picturesque British port of Southampton, among a crew of colorful, eccentric, and fiercely individual souls, a killer has come ashore. And only Jane can fathom the depths of his ruthless mind….

“I will assert that sailors are endowed with greater worth than any set of men in England.” So muses Jane Austen as she stands in the buffeting wind of Southampton’s quay beside her brother Frank on a raw February morning. Frank, a post captain in the Royal Navy, is without a ship to command, and his best prospect is the Stella Maris, a fast frigate captained by his old friend Tom Seagrave. “Lucky” Tom—so dubbed for his habit of besting enemy ships—is presently in disgrace, charged with violating the Articles of War. Tom’s first lieutenant, Eustace Chessyre, has accused Seagrave of murder in the death of a French captain after the surrender of his ship. Though Lucky Tom denies the charge, his dagger was found in the dead man’s chest. Now Seagrave faces court-martial and execution for a crime he swears he did not commit.

Frank, deeply grieved, is certain his friend will hang. But Jane reasons that either Seagrave or Chessyre is lying—and that she and Frank have a duty to discover the truth. The search for the captain’s honor carries them into the troubled heart of Seagrave’s family, through some of the seaport’s worst sinkholes, and at long last to Wool House, the barred brick structure that serves as gaol for French prisoners of war. Risking contagion or worse, Jane agrees to nurse the murdered French captain’s imprisoned crew—and elicits a debonair surgeon’s account of the Stella Maris’s battle that appears to clear Tom Seagrave of all guilt.

When Eustace Chessyre is found murdered, the entire affair takes on the appearance of an insidious plot against Seagrave, who is charged with the crime. Could any of his naval colleagues wish him dead? In an era of turbulent intrigue and contested amour, could it be a case of cherchez la femme… or a veiled politcal foe at work? And what of the sealed orders under which Seagrave embarked that fateful night in the Stella Maris? Death knocks again at Jane’s own door before the final knots in the killer’s net are completely untangled.

Always surprising, Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House is an intelligent and intriguing mystery that introduces Jane and her readers to “the naval set”—and charts a true course through the amateur sleuth’s most troubled waters yet.

“Jane ventures ever further from the world conventionally assigned her real-life original.”

Jane and the Stillroom Maid

Book 5

In her fifth engrossing mystery, the wise and witty Jane Austen finds that even a stroll through the bucolic English countryside can lead down a path toward murder. For it is in the quiet town of Bakewell that Jane stumbles upon a case riddled with odd allegiances and murderous rages that she could have never fathomed…

Jane Austen is enjoying a summer visit to Derbyshire’s craggy peaks, sparkling streams, and cavernous gorges. But there, amid scenes of unsurpassed beauty, she stumbles upon the ugliest slaughter she has ever seen. High in the rocks near the town of Bakewell the body of a young gentleman. With blond curls and delicate features, the victim has the face of an angel—yet Jane can see that he had been shot in the forehead and savagely mutilated.

But even more shocking is the revelation gleaned from the surgeon’s examination: the deceased is in fact a woman—a maidservant clad in the garb of her master, Mr. Charles Danforth of Penfolds Hall. Tess Arnold had been in charge of the stillroom at Penfolds for many years and was known as an adept preserver of produce and compounder of home remedies—until , it seems she was dismissed for a scandalous indiscretion.

Was Tess, Jane wonders, the gory prey of a madman loose in the hills? Is there any merit to the claims of the ranting blacksmith, who speculates that Tess fell victim to a ritual execution—the dark side of the secret brotherhood of the Freemasons?

A fortuitous encounter with Lord Harold Trowbridge, Jane’s Gentleman Rogue affords her ample opportunity to study local gentry. She soon learns that the two Danforth brothers of Penfolds Hall could not be more dissimilar Andrew, jovial and ambitious; Charles, lame and taciturn, given to midnight rambles and haunted by the successive deaths of his wife and four children The common folk whisper that he is cursed—or worse. Through it all, Jane’s genius for observation, interrogation and artifice places her routinely at risk—and just out of sight lurks a killer from whom little can protect her.

Endlessly diverting, Jane and the Stillroom Maid is a classic mystery that takes readers on a guided tour of the English countryside at its most murderous—and displays Jane Austen at the height of her stylish and trenchant powers of detection.

“Jane Austen as sleuth continues to delight.”
Publishers Weekly

“Another first-rate addition to the series.”
Christian Science Monitor

“…a wonderful job of evoking the great British estates and the woes of spinsters living in that era … often echoing the rhythms of the Austen novels with uncanny ease.”
Entertainment Weekly

Jane and the Genius of the Place

Book 4

In three highly diverting mysteries, Jane Austen has shown herself a clever hand at unraveling the deadly knots woven by the unscrupulous. Now, in her latest engrossing adventure, Jane is called upon to solve a shattering crime that may begin and end in one man’s heart—or encompass the fate of an entire nation.

In the waning days of summer, Jane Austen is off to the Canterbury Races, where the rich and fashionable go to gamble away their fortunes. It is an atmosphere ripe for scandal. But even Jane is unprepared for the shocking drama that ensues when a raven—haired wanton in a scarlet riding habit takes center stage. She is Francoise Grey, a flamboyant French beauty who has cast a spell over the gentlemen of Kent….and her unbridled behavior at the races invites the most scandalous speculation.

What can Mrs. Grey be thinking Jane wonders, to so brazenly strike a gentleman with her whip? And what recklessness then spurs her to leap the rail on her fleet black horse and join the race? Only hours after Mrs. Grey has departed the race grounds in triumph will Jane realize the full import of her questions. For in a shabby chaise less than a hundred feet from where Jane sat, the impossible is revealed: Mrs. Grey’s lifeless body, gruesomely strangled, her ruby riding habit nowhere to be found.

Asthose around her rush to arrest the owner of the chaise—a known scoundrel with eyes for Francoise—Jane looks further afield to find a number of others behaving oddly, including the dashing military man caught rifling through the dead woman’s desk, the widower who does not appear to be grieving, and the shy governess curiously overpowered by the horror of the Frenchwoman’s death.

As rumors spread like wildfire that Napoleon’s fleet is bound for Kent, Jane begins to suspect that Francoise Grey’s murder was an act of war rather than a crime of passion. The peaceful fields of Kent have become a very dangerous place… and Jane’s thirst for justice may exact the steepest price of all—her life.

Deliciously sinister and splendidly wrought, Jane and the Genius of Palace is a stylish puzzler that only the incomparable Jane Austen could hope to crack. And in her capable hands, the solving of it is a pleasure to watch.

“Jane [is] a subtle but determined sleuth.”
Chicago Tribune

Jane and the Wandering Eye

Book 3

Jane Austen’s potential as a brilliant sleuth was delightfully revealed in Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor and deliciously underscored in Jane and the Man of the Cloth. Now, in Stephanie Barron’s third superb Jane Austen Mystery, the beloved author embarks on her most perplexing case… as misplaced passions, festering malice, and the desire for revenge serve to conceal the true motives for murder.

As Christmas of 1804 approaches, Jane Austen finds herself “insupportably bored with Bath, and the littlenesses of a town,” despite the seasonal gaiety, the elegant Assemblies, and the appearance of a celebrated pair of actors at the Theatre Royal. It is with something like relief, then, that she accepts a peculiar commission from her Gentleman Rogue, Lord Harold Trowbridge—to shadow his niece, Lady Desdemona, who has fled Bath to avoid the attentions of the arrogant and unsavoury Earl of Swithin.

But at a masquerade thronged with this fashionable and the notorious, Jane’s idle diversion suddenly turns deadly. Even as actor Hugh Conyngham transfixes the guests with his declamation of MacBeth’s murderous soliloquy, his theatre manager is discovered stabbed to death in an anteroom. Weeping on his breast is Hugh’s sister, the spirited tragedienne Maria Conyngham. And standing by the body, knife in hand, is Desdemona’s brother, Simon, Lord Kinsfell. In vain does Simon protest his innocence: he is arrested and charged with murder.

Jane, however, knows that there is more to this fatal drama than meets the eye. And what is one to surmise from the stormy portrait of an eye left lying on the corpse? As Yuletide revels progress, Jane’s delicate inquiries expose a bewildering array of suspects amid an endlessly shifting pattern of flirtations, amours, and sinister entanglements. And as Jane’s fascination with mystery and her fondness for the dramatic arts lead her deeper into the investigation, it becomes clear that she will not uncover the truth without some playacting of her own.

Yet Jane’s bravura performance could do more than unmask a killer… it could lead to the ruin of her reputation, or even the loss of her life.

Fiendishly clever and breathlessly diverting, Jane and the Wandering Eye weaves manners, mayhem, and murder into a dazzling spectacle of intrigue and suspense.

“Period details bring immediacy to a neatly choreographed dance through Bath society.”
Publishers Weekly
“A glimpse of what Jane Austen’s world was like, as well as an intriguing mystery.”
Rocky Mountain News
“Barron’s high level of invention testifies to an easy acquaintance with upper-class life and culture in Regency England and a fine grasp of Jane Austen’s own literary style”
New York Times Book Review

Jane and the Man of the Cloth

Book 2

Jane Austen and her family are looking forward to a peaceful late—summer holiday in the seaside village of Lyme Regis. But on the road thither, a fearful storm and an overturned carriage lead the shaken travelers to seek refuge at High Down Grange. And there, in a dismal manor house wrapt in an air of malevolent neglect, Jane meets the darkly forbidding yet strangely attractive master of High Down Grange, Mr. Geoffrey Sidmouth.

What murky secrets does the brooding Mr. Sidmouth hope to preserve behind his fearful glower? And who is the exceedingly lovely young woman dressed in peasant garb who shares his home? Once settled in town, Jane seeks to learn the answers. Yet common gossip is soon forgotten when a man is found hanged from a makeshift gibbet by the sea.

Only the day before, Jane had observed this same man in a heated exchange with Mr. Sidmouth. Still, the worthies of Lyme are certain the labourer’s death is the work of “the Reverend,” the notorious ringleader of the midnight smuggling trade. The Reverend’s identity is the paramount mystery of Lyme Regis. And Jane, who can never resist a puzzle, is determined to solve this one.

But to her dismay, she must soon admit that she harbours a strange sensibility for a man who could well be a murderer. And then a second mysterious death draws her into a perilous scheme to entrap and expose Geoffrey Sidmouth. From the drawing—rooms of the cultured and the devious to secret caverns and coarse haunts, her mission will take her far from a lady’s proper venue…until even so canny a student of character and valiant adventurer must ask herself: “Is the prize worth the risk—to my heart as well as my person?”

Stylish, suspenseful, and wickedly diverting, Jane and the Man of the Cloth delves deep into the foibles, passions, and ruthless machinations that lurk within the most polite society.

“Eat your heart out, Charlotte Bronte!…Captivating…Delightful…Ms. Barron’s skillful rendering of Austen’s style, attuned to picking up the most delicate fluctuations in social behavior, reveals it to be an ideal vehicle for the classic cozy murder mystery.”
New York Times Book Review
“Delightful…captures the style and wit of Austen…. A real charmer.”
San Francisco Examiner
“There’s plenty to enjoy in this crime-solving side of Jane….[She] is as worthy a detective as Columbo.”
USA Today
“The words, characters, and references are so real it is a shock to find that the author is not Austen herself.”
Arizona Republic

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor

Book 1

If Jane Austen had turned her formidable wit and powers of observation to sleuthing before establishing herself as the major literary figure we know and love, then surely she would have been every inch the detective that Stephanie Barron has created in this delectable debut.

“I would rather spend an hour among the notorious than two minutes with the dull.” To Jane Austen’s surprise, her visit to the snowy Hertfordshire estate of young and beautiful Isobel Payne, Countess of Scargrave, will be far from dull. She has scarcely arrived when the Earl—a gentleman of mature years—is felled by a mysterious ailment too agonizing and violet to credit to a fondness for claret and pudding. Scargrave’s death seems a cruel blow of fate for Isobel, married but three months. Yet the bereaved widow soon finds that it’s only the beginning of her misfortune… as she receives a sinister missive accusing her and the Earl’s nephew of adultery—and murder.

Desperately afraid that the letter will expose her and Viscount Fitzroy Payne, for whom she bears a secret tendresse, to the worst sort of scandal, Isobel begs her friend Jane for help. Which is how Jane finds herself embroiled in an investigation that hinges on the motives of Scargrave Manor’s guests:

LORD FITZROY PAYNE—Inscrutable and strikingly handsome, Fitzroy is also heavily in debt. Did he wager his fortune on a quick succession to the earldom?

MR. GEORGE HEARST—Payne’s graveyard-faced cousin is bound for Holy Orders, but he may have been disappointed by his deceased uncle in a matter more intimate than ecclesiastic.

LIEUTENANT TOM HEARST—George’s brother and penniless scapegrace with unruly curls and a satiric eye, his gallantries beguile even the cool-headed Miss Austen.

LORD HAROLD TROWBRIDGE—Disliked for his haughty arrogance and cunning manner, he is an unwelcome guest who inspires great fear in Isobel. Why, wonders Jane, does he so covet Isobel’s heritage, her West Indian lands?

THE DELAHOUSSAYE LADIES—Isobel’s aunt HORTENSE is out to make a match between Lord Fitzroy Payne and her daughter FANNY, a rich miss with yellow hair and an expanse of exposed bosom. Elegant, impertinent, snobbish—and sadly lacking in sense—Fanny prefers the dashing lieutenant.

Still, Jane is troubled by memories of the Earl’s tragic demise. And when the menacing letter writer is found bloodily dispatched, in circumstances that overwhelmingly incriminate Isobel and Lord Payne, Jane knows that there is no time to waste in discovering the truth. A missing locket, a monogrammed handkerchief, an ancestral ghost, and the deadly fruit of a tropical tree are among the markers of a trail that will lead all the way to the House of Lords and Newgate Prison—and may well place Jane’s own person in gravest jeopardy.

With her lively mind and acerbic tongue, Jane Austen is a sleuth to the manner born, and her first case, The Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, is stylishly sophisticated, devilishly intricate, and marvelously entertaining.

“Happily succeeds on all levels: a robust tale of manners and mayhem that faithfully reproduces the Austen style—and engrosses to the finish.”
“Splendid fun!”
Star Tribune, Minneapolis