North By Northanger, or The Shades of Pemberley
by Carrie Bebris
Cover Artist: Teresa Fasolino
Review by Gayle Surrette
Tor Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765323828
Date: 29 September 2009 List Price $12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In each of Carrie Bebris's mysteries featuring Mr. & Mrs. Darcy, the story brings in some of the characters from one of Jane Austen's novels. As you might guess from the title, this mystery involves Northanger Abbey. In North by Northanger, the Darcy's almost lose everything in a convoluted crime tailored to destroy their lives.
The Darcys have been married for about a year, and while Elizabeth is settling into her duties as mistress of Pemberly, she feels that Darcy's mother is still very much a living presence in the house. A presence she feels that she's always being measured against. When having a desk moved she finds a letter written by Darcy's mother, Anne, just before Georgianna was born to Darcy's wife. The letter found just as Elizabeth discovers her pregnancy is very poignant and at once connects Elizabeth to Anne, the mother and woman, rather than Anne the mistress of Pemberly.
After visiting Jane and Bingley, the Darcy's stop at Bath to make the acquaintance of a doctor that Darcy wishes to hire to deliver their child. While in Bath, they receive an invitation to visit Northanger Abbey, Captain Tilney states that his mother and Darcy's were close friends. The visit doesn't go well at all and shortly after leaving Northanger Abbey, they are stopped and arrested.
Justice and the legal system in England, at the time of Austen's novels, is not a system that most readers would be at all familiar with. Needless to say, many died waiting for their trials to come up, and Darcy is desperate to keep Elizabeth from having to wait in jail. Desperate, Elizabeth calls on Lady Catherine de Bourgh for assistance. Lady Catherine, of course, would do all in her power to avoid scandal being attached to the Darcy name.
Suffice it to say that there is still little love lost between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine. Tensions rise to unbelievable heights as the crime must be solved and Darcy exonerated before their child is born. The magistrate is convinced that finding a gentleman guilty of a crime would make his career as a fair-handed deliverer of justice and doesn't really care whether Darcy is guilty or not.
North by Northanger will keep you on the edge of your seat as the mystery is unraveled. Who did the crime and why? Who framed Darcy and why? It's convoluted and while you may suspect the culprit, the how and why will surprise you. There also a subplot involving Elizabeth as she tries to learn more about Anne Darcy and her relationship with her sister, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Once again, Bebris not only gives readers a good mystery, but manages to pull in the Gothic qualities of Northanger Abbey, giving us some writing that may raise the hairs on the back of your neck.