The Deception at Lyme: Or, The Peril of Persuasion
by Carrie Bebris
Cover Artist: Teresa Fasolino
Review by Gayle Surrette
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765327970
Date: 27 September 2011 List Price $22.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Each of Carrie Bebris' books echoes one of Jane Austen's works, while continuing the story of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. In this story, the Darcy's are taking a vacation in Lyme since Elizabeth has never seen the sea. It isn't long until they find a woman who has tumbled off the Cobb Wall. They send Georgiana to take their daughter Lily-Anne back to their quarters and, with the help of Lt. St. Clair, they take the woman to the nearby home of Captain and Mrs. Harville. The woman is unconscious and very pregnant and goes into labor. The woman dies shortly after giving birth to a child -- a boy. Now they're left trying to find out who she was and if there is a husband looking for her, or family to take the child.
At this point things become very complicated indeed. It seems William Elliot claims she's his companion and the child is his. But when the Darcy's attempt to notify him of her death they come upon Sir Walter Elliot who says that the woman is his wife and the child his heir. The woman, of course, is Mrs. Clay from Persuasion. It turns out that Anne and her husband Frederick Wentworth are also in Lyme along with Mrs. Smith and Nurse Rooke.
So while the main characters are baffled by the interplay between the members of this very dysfunctional family, they do grow to respect and admire the Harvilles and the Wentworths. For there's more to the woman's fall than a mere accident, Elizabeth begins to believe, and Darcy agrees that it was murder. While they are trying to unravel the mystery, they are also watching carefully because it seems Georgiana appears to be falling in love.
The murder is the main story line but there's also another plot thread as Darcy tries to learn more about the death of his cousin Gerard Fitzwilliam at sea. At first this seems only a slight side issue but it becomes more important as the story continues.
Bebris does an exceptional job of continuing the story of the Darcy's life as a married couple while visiting an area of one of the other books by Austen and bringing those characters also forward in time from when we left them on the final page. The mystery is complicated enough to hold the interest of any mystery reader but filled with those bits of information and asides that add to the delight of those familiar with Austen's works. Bebris manages to stay true to the spirit of Austen's characters while placing them in situations that are totally outside the original books.