The Jane Austen Mysteries are a series of historical mystery books featuring none other than the famous Jane Austen, written by Francine Matthews under the pen name Stephanie Barron.
This gripping series, which is set during the Regency era, turns the well-known author of “Pride and Prejudice” into a brilliant investigator who, eerily frequently, finds herself coming upon dead bodies in the most unexpected locations.
How do you read the Jane Austen Mysteries in Order?
The Jane Austen Mysteries offer a delightful blend of Austen’s Regency-era charm and the intrigue of a murder mystery.
As the novels in the Jane Austen Mysteries series are supposed to be read in order to better understand the growth of the characters and underlying themes, you may read the series in sequence by doing so in the order in which they were published.
- Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor – Jane Austen witnesses a catastrophe while visiting the house of her friend, the young and stunning Isobel Payne, Countess of Scargrave. A gentleman in his middle years, Isobel’s spouse, succumbs to an unknown and excruciating illness. For the recentlywed Isobel, the death of the Earl looks like a tragic twist of fate. The grieving widow quickly learns, however, that her tragedy is only just starting when she gets a nasty letter accusing her and the Earl’s nephew of adultery-and murder. Isobel begs Jane for assistance out of a desperate fear that the letter would expose her to the worst kind of disgrace.
- Jane and the Man of the Cloth – Jane Austen and her family are anticipating a relaxing vacation in the seaside town of Lyme Regis. However, a flipped carriage on the outskirts of town leads the terrified tourists to seek shelter at a nearby manor estate. And it’s there that Jane first encounters the menacingly dark yet somehow alluring Mr. Geoffrey Sidmouth. What mysterious secrets is the moody Mr. Sidmouth trying to keep hidden? Jane fears the worst, but her focus is quickly redirected when a guy is found hanging on a crude gibbet by the water.
- Jane and the Wandering Eye – Christmas in 1804 is quickly approaching, and Jane Austen declares that she is “insupportably bored with Bath, and the littleness of a town.” She reluctantly agrees to follow his niece, Lady Desdemona, who has fled to Bath in order to evade the unwanted attention of the shady Earl of Swithin, as a perplexing command from her Gentleman Rogue, Lord Harold Trowbridge. But when a man is found dead from stab wounds in the Theatre Royal, Jane’s frivolous distraction takes a tragic turn.
- Jane and the Genius of the Place – As summer draws to a close, Jane Austen travels to the Canterbury Races, where the wealthy and stylish congregate to blow their money. It’s a setting that’s ideal for controversy. The unexpected drama develops when a raven-haired wanton wearing a scarlet riding habit takes center stage, however, even Jane is unprepared for it. Her wild conduct at the races generates the most scandalous rumors. She is Françoise Grey, a flashy French beauty who has charmed the gents of Kent. But shortly after Mrs. Grey has triumphantly left the racetrack, her lifeless corpse is found, horribly strangled, with her ruby riding uniform nowhere to be seen.
- Jane and the Stillroom Maid – Jane Austen visits the Canterbury Races as the summer comes to an end, when the affluent and fashionable flock to squander their money. It’s the kind of environment where squabbles thrive. But even Jane is unprepared for the unexpected drama that arises when a raven-haired wanton wearing a scarlet riding uniform takes center stage. The most scandalous tales are spread about her crazy behavior during the races. The flamboyant French beauty known as Françoise Grey has won the hearts of the men in Kent. However, not long after Mrs. Grey has triumphantly departed the racetrack, the horrifyingly strangled body of the woman is discovered, and her ruby riding costume is nowhere to be seen.
- Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House – In a case of murder on the high seas, Jane Austen makes use of her delectable wit and familial connections to the Royal Navy. A murderer has landed amid a crew of vibrant, quirky, and fiercely unique characters in Southampton, a lovely port in Britain. And only Jane is able to understand the depths of his cold-blooded mentality.
- Jane and the Ghosts of Netley – Jane Austen imagines that ghosts actually do inhabit the centuries-old monastery as she stands in front of Netley Abbey’s abandoned remains. The startling green-cloaked person, however, is all very human, and he is carrying a letter from Lord Harold Trowbridge, a highly respected figure in Jane’s life and one of the British government’s most trusted advisors. Trowbridge informs Jane about a potential traitor living among them and the dire repercussions if she is successful. But is Sophia Challoner, a stunning widow with alleged connections to Napoleon, actually a spy for the adversary?
- Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy – Jane Austen moves into Chawton Cottage in Hampshire, but she does so with regret. She is shocked to find that the late Lord Harold Trowbridge has left her the strange bequest of a Bengal chest containing his journals, letters, and most private communications when she is secretly lamenting the loss of the love of her life. Jane is intended to compile a biography of the Gentleman Rogue from these for future generations. However, before she can finish this labor of love, she finds a body in the cellar of her new house.
- Jane and the Barque of Frailty – Jane Austen travels to Sloane Street shortly after finishing Sense and Sensibility to spend a month with her brother Henry and his wife Eliza. Jane is fully aware of the secrets and transgressions of the Fashionable Great due to her close friendship with them during the height of the Season. However, even she is taken aback when the private letter between a Russian princess and a well-known Tory politician is made public in the newspapers. Even more horrifying, the humiliated beauty is soon discovered on Lord Castlereagh’s doorstep with her neck cut.
- Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron – After Henry’s wife passes away from a protracted illness, the healing power of the ocean leads Jane Austen and her adored brother Henry to Brighton. From the bustling, glitzy resort is anything from serene, especially after George Gordon, better known as Lord Byron, discovers the dead body of a stunning young society miss in his bedroom. No one would ever accuse Byron of being a murderer despite the horrible image he has established for himself as a poet and a seducer of women.
- Jane and the Canterbury Tale – Adelaide Fiske is back at the altar three years after learning of her scandalous husband’s passing, this time with a soldier serving on the Marquis of Wellington’s staff. When Jane Austen comes upon a corpse on the historic Pilgrim’s Way that passes through her brother Edward’s land, one of the most infamous ladies in Kent’s prospects appears to be bright.
- Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas – Christmas Eve, 1814: The beautiful ancestral house of the affluent and powerful Chute family, The Vyne, has extended an invitation to Jane Austen to spend the holiday with family and friends. Jane and her group are in a festive mood as the year comes to a finish and pals start to congregate under the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas celebrations. But Jane soon learns that the joy of the season is transitory. A sad accident results in the death of one of the Christmas revelers, and Jane quickly suspects the cause.
- Jane and the Waterloo Map – October 1815. The British economy is in ruins as a result of the Battle of Waterloo, and high-flying banker Henry Austen is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy, taking many of his brothers with him. Jane goes to Henry’s London hospital bedside thinking he is about to die after the crisis ruins his health. The Prince Regent’s chaplain extends an invitation to Jane to explore Carlton House while she is there, the Prince’s luxurious London residence. But when Jane finds a corpse, her visit takes an unexpected turn.
- Jane and the Year without a Summer – Jane Austen experienced health issues in May 1816, including a queasy stomach, persistent exhaustion, rashes, fevers, and pains. She blames her ill health on the strain of her family’s responsibilities, which not even the writing of her most recent work could relieve. Her apothecary advises a try of Cheltenham Spa’s healing waters, which are located in Gloucestershire. With the help of her sister Cassandra and part of the money she made from her most recent book, Emma, Jane decides to treat herself to some time at the spa for introspection and relaxation.
- Jane and the Final Mystery – March 1817: As winter gives way to spring, Jane Austen’s health is slowly deteriorating and might halt work on her most recent book. But when her nephew Edward breaks the disturbing news of a death at Winchester College, where he formerly attended, Jane is unafraid to go in search of the truth despite her crippling illness. An accusatory note written by the young William Heathcote, the son of Jane’s close friend Elizabeth, was discovered in the pocket of Arthur Prendergast’s wet waistcoat after he was discovered dead in a culvert close to the school grounds. Prendergast was a senior at the famous all-boys’ boarding school. Prendergast has a reputation for being a brutal bully. Has William gotten back at his tormentor, ers is there a bigger plot afoot?
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 our article about the Jane Austen Mysteries reading order, you may also want to see our guide to Jane Austen’s books (sans murder) or our Lady Emily series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.