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It’s an Austenian Murder Mystery!
What are the Jane Austen Mysteries about?
Written by Francine Matthews under the name Stephanie Barron, the Jane Austen Mysteries is a historical mysteries series featuring none other than Jane Austen herself.
Set during the Regency era, obviously, the series turned the famous author of Pride & Prejudice into an extraordinary sleuth with a knack for stumbling upon dead bodies wherever she goes.
How to read the Jane Austen Mysteries In Order?
- Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor – On a visit to the estate of her friend, the young and beautiful Isobel Payne, Countess of Scargrave, Jane Austen bears witness to a tragedy. Isobel’s husband—a gentleman of mature years—is felled by a mysterious and agonizing ailment. The Earl’s death seems a cruel blow of fate for the newly married Isobel. 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 to the worst sort of scandal, Isobel begs Jane for help.
- Jane and the Man of the Cloth – Jane Austen and her family are looking forward to a peaceful holiday in the seaside village of Lyme Regis. Yet on the outskirts of town, an overturned carriage forces the shaken travelers to take refuge at a nearby manor house. And it is there that Jane meets the darkly forbidding yet strangely attractive Mr. Geoffrey Sidmouth. What murky secrets does the brooding Mr. Sidmouth seek to hide? Jane suspects the worst—but her attention is swiftly diverted when a man is discovered hanged from a makeshift gibbet by the sea.
- Jane and the Wandering Eye – As Christmas of 1804 approaches, Jane Austen finds herself “insupportably bored with Bath, and the littleness of a town.” It is with relief that she accepts a peculiar commission from her Gentleman Rogue, Lord Harold Trowbridge—to shadow his niece, Lady Desdemona, who has fled to Bath to avoid the attentions of the unsavory Earl of Swithin. But Jane’s idle diversion turns deadly when a man is discovered stabbed to death in the Theatre Royal.
- Jane and the Genius of the Place – 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 Françoise 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. But only hours after Mrs. Grey has departed the race grounds in triumph, her lifeless body is discovered, gruesomely strangled, her ruby riding habit nowhere to be found.
- Jane and the Stillroom Maid – While enjoying a ramble in the Derbyshire hills near Bakewell, Jane discovers the mutilated body of a young man. Jane’s suspicions are roused when her escort, Mr. George Hemming, prefers to remove the unidentified corpse to Buxton, rather than Bakewell, and they increase when the body proves to be that of a woman dressed in men’s clothing. Moreover, the corpse is identified as Tess Arnold, a servant at one of the area’s great houses, whom Mr. Hemming should have recognized.
- Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House – 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…
- Jane and the Ghosts of Netley – 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?
- Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy – 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 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.
- Jane and the Barque of Frailty – On the heels of completing Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen 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.
- Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron – The restorative power of the ocean brings Jane Austen and her beloved brother Henry, to Brighton after Henry’s wife is lost to a long illness. But the crowded, glittering resort is far from peaceful, especially when the lifeless body of a beautiful young society miss is discovered in the bedchamber of none other than George Gordon—otherwise known as Lord Byron. As a poet and a seducer of women, Byron has carved out a shocking reputation for himself—but no one would ever accuse him of being capable of murder.
- Jane and the Canterbury Tale – Three years after news of her scandalous husband’s death, Adelaide Fiske 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.
- Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas – 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. Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion.
- Jane and the Waterloo Map – November 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, a 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. But her visit takes a startling turn when Jane stumbles upon a body.
- Jane and the Year without a Summer – 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 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.
- Jane and the Final Mystery – 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. Prendergast had been widely reviled for his ruthless bullying. Has William exacted revenge on his tormentor, or is there a larger conspiracy looming?
Bonus Jane Austen Mysteries
- Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart – Collects short stories influenced by Jane Austen, including one mystery written by Stephanie Barron.
- On Hosting Your Regency-Era Christmas Party – A Companion to Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas.
If you like the Jane Austen Mysteries, you may also want to see our guide to Jane Austen’s books (sans murder) or our Lady Emily Reading Order. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.