Jane and the Stillroom Maid

Jane and the Stillroom Maid

Being the Fifth Jane Austen Mystery

Book - 2000
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Random House, Inc.
Jane Austen as sleuth continues to delight in her latest adventure (after Jane and the Genius of the Place), which sheds new light on the author's travels in 1806. While enjoying a ramble in the Derbyshire hills near Bakewell (a town Eliza Bennett visits in Pride and Prejudice), Jane discovers the mutilated body of a young man. Jane's suspicions are roused when her escort, Mr. George Hemming, prefers to remove the unidentified corpse to Buxton, rather than Bakewell, and they increase when the body proves to be that of a woman dressed in men's clothing. Moreover, the corpse is identified as Tess Arnold, a servant at one of the area's great houses, whom Mr. Hemming should have recognized. As the compounder of stillroom remedies, Tess had a reputation as a healer, until accused of witchcraft. Rumors of ritual murder by Freemasons-who include most of the neighboring gentry-excite the local populace and jeopardize the investigation of the justice of the peace, himself a Mason. When Mr. Hemming disappears before the inquest, Jane and the justice turn for help to Lord Harold Trowbridge, a guest at the nearby ducal house of Chatsworth. Barron catches Austen's tone amazingly well. Details of early 19th-century country life of all classes ring true, while the story line is clear, yet full of surprises. The "editor's notes" that punctuate the text and old cures for various ills that open each chapter add to the charm. (Aug.)

Baker & Taylor
The horrifying mutilation murder of a young servant girl from a nearby estate draws author-turned-sleuth Jane Austen into a mystery that could lead her into a perilous search for a madman.

Blackwell North Amer
Jane Austen is enjoying a summer visit to Derbyshire's craggy peaks, sparkling streams, and cavernous gorges. But there, amid scenes of unsurpassed beauty, she stumbles upon the ugliest slaughter she has ever seen. High in the rocks near the town of Bakewell lies the body of a young gentleman. With blond curls and delicate features, the victim has the face of an angel - yet Jane can see that he had been shot in the forehead and savagely mutilated.
But even more shocking is the revelation gleaned from the surgeon's examination: the deceased is in fact a woman - a maidservant clad in the garb of her master, Mr. Charles Danforth of Penfolds Hall. Tess Arnold had been in charge of the stillroom at Penfolds for many years and was known as an adept preserver of produce and compounder of home remedies - until, it seems, she was dismissed for a scandalous indiscretion.
Was Tess, Jane wonders, the gory prey of a madman loose in the hills? Or was she, perchance, the cast-off impediment to a young nobleman's marriage? Is there any merit to the claims of the ranting blacksmith, who speculates that Tess fell victim to a ritual execution - the dark side of the secret brotherhood of the Freemasons?
A fortuitous encounter with Lord Harold Trowbridge, Jane's Gentleman Rogue, affords her ample opportunity to study local gentry. She soon learns that the two Danforth brothers of Penfold Hall could not be more dissimilar: Andrew, jovial and ambitious, Charles, lame and taciturn, given to midnight rambles and haunted by the successive deaths of his wife and four children. The common folk whisper that he is cursed - or worse. Through it all, Jane's genius for observation, interrogation, and artifice places her routinely at risk - and just out of sight lurks a killer from whom little can protect her.

& Taylor

The horrifying mutilation murder of a young servant girl from a nearby estate in the Peak District draws author-turned-sleuth Jane Austen into a terrifying mystery that could lead her into a perilous search for a possible madman or into the mysterious secrets of Freemasonry. By the author of Jane and the Genius of Place.

Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 2000
ISBN: 9780553107340
Branch Call Number: M BARRON
Characteristics: viii, 277 p. ; 24 cm


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SFPL_danielay Jul 27, 2016

An enjoyable historic mystery series featuring Jane Austen. Jane's observations on people and her surroundings are what makes this series stand out and avid readers of Austen will have fun finding "real life" inspirations for characters from her novels in these mysteries.


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