What a lovely surprise it was to see this great review from Gumshoe Review of Death of a Clergyman!
Here’s the link: http://www.gumshoereview.com/php/Review-id.php?id=6689
And here’s the text:
Death of a Clergyman is the first of a new series featuring Miss Mary Bennet as the investigator. For those who are Jane Austen fans, you’ll find your first guess is correct this mystery contains the characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while including a few others needed for this variation from the original novel. The author does a great job of keeping the original characters recognizable to readers of the original work and the changes, when they occur, are believable as extensions of their basic character flaws.
Mr. Collins has been found murdered. Some items found near the body seem to indicate that Elizabeth Bennet killed him. The evidence is circumstantial but it does all point to Elizabeth. The local magistrate, Sir William Lucas, believes he has no option but to arrest her and bind her over for trial for murder.
Elizabeth denies killing Collins and states he was alive when she last saw him. Charlotte Lucas browbeats her father into further investigation of the crime and allowing Elizabeth to be restricted to Longbourn’s grounds. This is acceptable to everyone, except no one actually believes that another suspect will be found.
Mary Bennet, the middle daughter of five, has always been overlooked. At times she almost believes she’s invisible. But since no one pays attention to her, she has plenty of time to observe others. Mary is convinced that Elizabeth is innocent and it will be up to her to clear her sister and find the real killer.
Mr. Darcy also believes Elizabeth is innocent and he hires Alexander Lyons, a private and confidential investigator that he has used in the past to go to Meryton with him to look into the crime. Before Lyons will take the case, he asks Darcy to confirm that if it turns out Elizabeth is the murderer Darcy will allow the evidence to be turned over to the courts. Darcy, of course, reluctantly agrees.
After a rough and rocky start, Lyons, Darcy, and Mary begin to share their information. The men concentrate on interviewing other gentlemen and ladies of the area regarding what they know. Mary, on the other hand, spends much of her time visiting staff in the estates in the area. I’ll leave it to you to decide who gets the most useful information.
The mystery is convoluted, with a number of surprising twists. The author plays fair with the readers and I’ll note that having read the original work from which this story deviates is not necessary to enjoy the story. All in all, this is a great start to the series and the next mystery will be Death in Highbury which plays off Jane Austen’s Emma. After reading Death of a Clergyman, I’m looking forward to the next Miss Mary Investigates.