Death Comes to Pemberley
Grade : A-

Like many romance readers, I can’t get enough of Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, and Mr. Bingley. However, unlike many romance readers, I haven’t fallen prey to the seemingly endless supply of Pride and Prejudice sequels. Until P.D. James, one of my favorite modern authors, tried her hand at it, that is.

Now 92, her mysteries are as sharp and intricately plotted as ever and she continues to amaze readers year after year. I am one of her most devoted readers, so when she decided to write her own tribute to the great Miss Austen, I was one of the first to buy the book.

Death Comes to Pemberley reads as if Jane wrote it herself. Really, it does. There is as much restraint and dry wit in this book as in the original, making P.D. James a good choice to deliver the definitive word about just how Elizabeth and Darcy are coping after six years of marriage.

Our story begins one autumn night at Pemberley when Darcy and Elizabeth are preparing to hold an annual ball in his late mother’s honor. Their evening with family and friends, however, is cut short when a carriage careens down the path towards the house carrying Lizzie’s disgraced sister Lydia who shrieks that she is very much afraid that their friend Captain Martin Denny (who appeared in the original) has killed Lydia’s husband, the dastardly Mr. Wickham.

However, when Darcy and others go the scene, they discover that Denny is the one who’s dead and Mr. Wickham stammers that he killed him. Mr. Wickham’s asserts that what he really meant was that it was his quarrel with Mr. Denny that lead him to go out into the woods where he was killed by unknown hands.

Mr. Wickham’s assertions of innocence are not believed by the jurors at the inquest that follows and he is bound over for trial in the spring in London.

Readers of Pride and Prejudice know that Wickham truly is a dastardly human being and there is little he won’t do. But is he actually evil enough to kill the man he called his best friend? That is the question facing Mr. Darcy.

The pace of this book feels similar to the original. Still, I found myself craving more Darcy/Elizabeth interaction since it must be admitted, that Darcy and Elizabeth have little time together on page. There is, however, a delicious section in which Darcy apologizes to Elizabeth all over again for his prideful behavior in the first book. You can never get enough of that groveling, right?

For those who love both Jane Austen and P.D. James – and I am most certainly one – Death Comes to Pemberley offers double rewards. P.D. James has delivered a worthy homage to one of the greatest novels ever written. And as someone who calls Pride and Prejudice her favorite novel, I loved this sequel. It feels right.

Reviewed by Sandy Coleman
Grade : A-

Sensuality: N/A

Review Date : January 3, 2012

Publication Date: 2011/12

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