Sunday, February 3, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley

P. D. James is one of my favorite mystery authors.  In fact she is probably my favorite living mystery writer.  I have read all of her fiction.  I am also a fan of Jane Austen, not a super fan but I have read all of her books, some of them more than once.  Death Comes to Pemberley combines these two authors with James continuing the story of Elizabeth and Darcy of Pride and Prejudice fame.  Elizabeth and Darcy have been happily married for six years.  They're about to throw their annual autumn ball.  Unfortunately all of their carefully laid plans go awry when Elizabeth's troublesome sister Lydia and her even more troublesome husband George Wickham come calling, bringing with them a murder to be solved.

This was an interesting and odd but not entirely successful pairing of Austen and James.  It was good but it is not the best showcase of either author's work.  I did enjoy James's writing but there was none of the comedy of matters that one gets in Austen's work and though there was a murder to be solved there was no detective, amateur or professional, actively trying to solve it.  Everyone was waiting for the murderer to be found but no one was meticulously looking for clues or questioning suspects.  The mystery seem to serve mostly as a way for various characters to reflect on their past, present, and future.  Not that this was entirely a bad thing, but it seemed that both authors' voices were missing. 

Serious P. D. James fans like myself will probably still want to read this.  Her writing is great even if the mystery here is a bit lackluster.  For Austen fans, I'm not sure this is the right book.  But who knows, maybe give it a try.


  1. I tried reading this one, but I couldn't get into. I still have it on my shelf hoping that a better mood will strike.

    1. Have you read other novels by P. D. James? If not, don't let this book deter you. Her other novels are much better - better mysteries, better character development. The trouble with an author taking on another author's characters is that the author is limited in where they can take the characters. I think that was part of the problem here.


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