Death Comes to Pemberley
by P.D. James
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Library Journal Ladieeees and gentlemen, in this corner, in Empire-waist trunks, is Miss Jane Austen (aka the Chawton Nonpareil); and in the opposite corner, in the tiara, Miss P.D. James (aka the Duchess James of Holland Park). Initially, the contestants are evenly matched in this sequel to Pride and Prejudice that starts off with the briskly told story of Lydia Wickham's melodramatic, unexpected, and totally characteristic arrival at the stately doors of Pemberley; this alerts residents to the discovery of her husband on the grounds kneeling over a dead body. Thus death comes to a richly detailed Pemberley, and thus is set in motion the investigation and trial that propel the remainder of the book. When there is an autopsy (and at Pemberley!), it seems clear that this is definitely James's fight to win or to lose. Before it's all over, a gaggle of Janeites have to be forcibly ejected from the arena. Verdict A draw. Both Austen and James survive the affray to be able to fight again. Nonrabid fans of both will find enjoyment in this heartfelt, idiosyncratic valentine from the one writer to the other, although they might also be able to agree that it shows neither author at the very top of her game. [See Prepub Alert, 11/3/11; 300,000-copy first printing.]-Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Really, gentle reader, there are limits. When mystery grande dame P. D. James felt the mantle of Jane Austen fall on her shoulders, why didn't she simply shrug it off? Instead, she has produced a straight-faced mystery no zombies in which a murdered body is found on the grounds of Darcy and Elizabeth's stately home, Pemberley. James places a template of Austen characters and Austen-like language over a traditional mystery plot and even takes on the role of the omniscient Austen narrator herself. The mystery is set in 1803, six years after the wedding of Elizabeth and Darcy, with ample space given to catching us up on the recent doings of the Bennet family. On the mystery side, there's plenty of action, from the discovery of Captain Denny's body, through a trial, assorted deceptions and mix-ups, and love affairs. Unfortunately, though, if this is meant as an homage, it's a pretty weak cup of tea, starting with a greatly diluted version of Austen's famous truth universally acknowledged opening. James' many fans will be pleased to see any kind of new book from the 91-year-old author, but discriminating Austen devotees are unlikely to appreciate the move from social comedy to murder. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This late addition to Knopf's winter list will require some last-minute marketing, but it has two very bankable Englishwomen on its side: Austen and James.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.