[Review] The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage Books/Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. May 3, 2022.
Genre: Historical Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Austenesque.
Pages: 400.
Format: eBook.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from Austenprose, NetGalley, and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of Austenesque.
Rating: Excellent.

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ADVANCE PRAISE:

“Had Jane Austen sat down to write a country house murder mystery, this is exactly the
book she would have written. Devotees of Austen’s timeless novels will get the greatest
possible pleasure from this wonderful book. Immense fun and beautifully
observed. Delicious!” —Alexander McCall Smith
“What a splendid conceit! . . . Gray provides plenty of backstory and enough depth to
her characters that even those who mix up their Pride and Prejudice with their Sense
and Sensibility will delight in the Agatha Christie–style mystery. . . . There’s so much fun
to be had in this reimagined Austen world—and the mystery is so strong—that one can
only hope, dear reader, that more books will follow.” —Ilene Cooper, Booklist (starred
review)
“[An] enchanting mystery. . . . Gray perfectly captures the personalities of Austen’s
beloved characters. This is a real treat for Austenites.” —Publishers Weekly
“Who would NOT want to read a book in which one of literature’s most notorious rakes
meets his final demise? . . . A delightful Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen
romp.” —Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Author Bio:

Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She is the writer of multiple young
adult novels, including the Evernight series, the Firebird trilogy, and the Constellation
trilogy. In addition, she’s written several Star Wars novels, such as Lost
Stars
 and Bloodline. She makes her home in New Orleans with her husband Paul and
assorted small dogs.

Summary:

A summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Jane Austen’s Mr.
Wickham—one of literature’s most notorious villains—meets a sudden and
suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Austen’s leading
literary characters.
The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a party at their country
estate, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved
by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial
scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and
secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his
comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of
course, for the killer hidden in their midst.

Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest
guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of
Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan
Darcy, the Darcy’s’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem
almost relaxed. In this tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, from New York
Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor
first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced
to hang.

My Thoughts:

I first want to state this is a splendid book!
Further, it is a busy book-busy with characters with their own substories. If you are a Jane Austen fan this means you’ve read at least one of her stories, if not several. You will recognize the characters from her books in this one volume. It is amazing how the large cast is brought together under one roof for a house party. Some are related. All are known to the hosts, Mr. Knightley, and wife, Emma. And the wicked Mr. Wickham joins the group-uninvited of course, which sets everyone on edge, and is the start of the murder-detective-mystery.

Several reasons why I love this story!

1. I love how I hear the other characters remark on one another. Their perspectives and impressions of one another.

2. Mr. George Wickam is everyone’s nemesis. Even characters who have only heard about him or have had little interaction with him-they detest him. I believe he is true to form as his terrible character reveals itself even more in this story.

3. The characters are true to their original stories. Their personalities, and the parts of the story we know about (and don’t know about) are carried on in this story. The Murder of Mr. Wickham brings us up to date with how their lives have been since we knew them in the original stories by Austen.

4. I love the pace of the story. The middle point is a building point to how the characters respond to what has happened to Mr. Wickham, to suppose who is the perpetrator, and to reveal more about their own substories.

5. Juliet and Jonathan Darcy are the youngest characters. They team up to solve the murder mystery. They are the only ones who either did not know Mr. Wickham or did not know him well. Their personalities alone are fascinating. They are a twist on expected gender type roles. Juliet is an intelligent young woman living in an era when women were not expected to take on a role as a detective.

6. Most of the time I love the author interjecting her own thoughts. This is not how I feel in all stories, but in this story, I love it.

7. I consider The Murder of Mr. Wickham to be a character study. If you love characters and the differences in them and how they bring together a larger story. This is the book for you.

8. The mystery of the murderer is not completely a surprise. I love how many of the ones on the list as possible suspects are ruled out. It is logical and methodical in how they are ruled out.

9. There is a theme in the story of grief. It is interesting that many of the characters suffer from grief. An unresolved sorrow and bitterness.

10. The ending of the story is very satisfactory.

Further Thoughts:

1. If Mr. Wickham is an untrustworthy scoundrel, why is Emma the one who showed Mr. Wickham to the room he will be staying in? I’m surprised Mr. Knightly trusts their unchaperoned trip.

2. This is not a Christian fiction book, but several Scripture references are used.

3. A modern-day view of a topic is weaved into the story. I’m not convinced this is accurate of this era. What I mean is I believe that this occurred (of course), but I don’t believe people talked about it. It was an unmentioned topic even in most private conversations. Even in my parents’ generation, (they were born in the 1920s) this topic was not mentioned except in whispers or lewd comments. So, this part of the story I do not believe can be considered accurate for this time period. And yes, this is my opinion. But I do believe the substory is handled well because it is private conversations between a married couple. As well as their struggles with a difference of opinion.

Themes: grief, romance, family honor, ambition, jealousy, courage, compassion, self-control, charity, hospitality, greed, injustice, deception, and innocence.

2 thoughts on “[Review] The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray

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