Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Death of a Dowager by by Joanna Campbell Slan (Berkley)

As a fan of the Kiki Lowenstein contemporary mystery series and nonfiction scrap booking books, I was eager to read Slan's new Jane Eyre Chronicles. I began with Death of a School Girl, the first in the series, preferring to read sequentially to learn the character's nuances and back story; however, as a well constructed mystery, Death of a Dowager can stand on its own.

The Jane Eyre we meet in Slan's series has a feisty approach to life as a wife, mother, mistress of Ferndean Manor—and amateur sleuth.  After a fire damages Ferndean Jane, Rochester, and their son embark on an extended stay in London with their dear friend Lucy Brayton.  Despite Lucy’s guidance through the perils of the social set of London, Jane encounters a very public snub from her nemesis Lady Ingram. As a result, Jane is unwittingly drawn into the intrigue of the court of King George IV.
Slan skillfully takes her readers back to the seemingly gentle times of Jane Eyre. She stays true to the iconic characters, themes, and time period. Her vivid descriptions of London's and Ferndean's physical settings are captivating. Characters are so well developed that readers emotionally connects with them. Conversation among the characters flowed naturally and was never stilted. Slan’s occasional touches of humor make for a very readable mystery.  Death of a Dowager will also appeal to fans of well-researched historical fiction.
Put your feet up, brew a cup of tea to go with a scone and get ready for a very pleasant time with Jane Eyre and The Death of the Dowager.
—Karen Kiley

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