Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy have now had the pleasure of several years as a married couple, even adding a daughter to their family, toddler Lily-Anne. They have also had the misfortune of witnessing some decidedly unpleasant events: murders and supernatural mysteries, which they have helped to solve. Now, the family, including Darcy’s sister Georgiana, is headed to Lyme, where they are retrieving the personal chest of Darcy’s late cousin, a naval lieutenant who was killed in action a few years previously.
Shortly after they arrive, the Darcys are walking along the Cobb when they come across a woman who has fallen from the high wall there. She is still alive, but her prognosis is grim — and they soon discover that she is pregnant. They get her to safety and a doctor delivers her baby boy, but the woman dies soon afterward. It would all seem simply an unfortunate incident, but as they learn about Mrs. Clay and her scandalous past and meet Mr. Elliot, who would seem to have something to gain from her death and that of her son, the situation looks more and more suspicious.
At the same time, a Lieutenant St. Clair, who served on the same ship with Darcy’s cousin, brings them the chest. Darcy finds out more from St. Clair about the circumstances of his cousin’s death and then looks through the contents of the chest, including a personal journal. Yet again, the things he learns look suspicious, and he has cause to wonder: was his cousin’s death actually a result of enemy action, or was it murder?
The Darcys have stumbled onto another mystery, the implications of which affect the Elliot family, Anne and Captain Wentworth, Mrs. Clay’s newborn son, and the Darcys themselves. Carrie Bebris successfully navigates the waters of Austen’s world, allowing readers to spend more time in the company of beloved characters from her novels and to learn more about the scoundrels. The mystery works, and so do her extensions of the original stories. I like this book probably the best of the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mysteries I have read, in part because there is no strange supernatural element as there was in a couple of her previous books, and because this seems the best developed and integrated. Definitely a fine effort.
Rated: None. There is one very mild use of language and very mild references to scandalous behavior.