This is a good cozy mystery for lovers of literature and all things Regency. While the occasion is a conference of the Jane Austen Society and there is much about Austen, there are references and allusions to many authors, such as Keats and Milton. The heroine, Erin, is well crafted. She is known for her passion in solving murder mysteries (I've missed the first in this series). Blake gives Erin an interesting motivation for her sleuthing pursuits. Erin had watched helpless as her mother died of cancer. Now, solving murders gave her a illusion of control. (1806/4615) Erin wrestles with personal issues in the form of two men romantically interested in her, as she pursues identifying the murderer. Blake provides a good balance of personal story intermixed with murder investigation progression.
I liked how Blake firmly placed the plot in location. The setting is the quaint English town of York. We get a good idea of the community, its history and geography with such interesting actions as walking the surrounding wall. The history of the area is inserted into the plot in a reasonable way.
I like how so many suspects come to light as past secrets and character relationships are revealed. The revelation of the villain did not come as a surprise and astute readers will probably figure out the individual along the way.
I enjoyed this cozy mystery for its interesting characters and informative setting. I liked the literary bent to the plot. I also liked the great critique of Hallmark Christmas movies as they are compared to great literature.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Elizabeth Blake is the pseudonym of Carole Bugge who also writes as C E Lawrence. She is the author of ten novels, six novellas, and multiple short stories and poems as well as being a notable playwright. She is the winner of several awards for her poetry, fiction and playwright material. She has a BA in English from Duke University. She teaches creative writing at NYU and Gotham Writers Workshop and is a Fellow of the International Writers Retreat at Hawthornden Castle, Scotland, as well as Writer in Residence at Byrdcliffe Arts Colony in Woodstock, New York. You can find out more at http://www.celawrence.com/.
Crooked Lane Books, 336 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)