If you’re wondering whether or not to pick up a copy of Ken Methold’s latest book, In Search of Jane Austen, this great review should convince you. It was written by one of the Awesome Indies Book Awards assessors Charles Ray.
When actress/playwright Sarah Kedron is summoned to Carlton House, home of the Prince of Wales, eldest son and heir of the mentally ill King George III and Prince Regent, she goes out of a sense of royal obligation, not expecting much to come of the visit. When she’s asked to take on the task of verifying the authenticity of the works of recently-deceased author, Jane Austen, she’s intrigued. The supposedly reclusive Austen, just after her death the previous year, was the author of two of the most popular books in England.
With the assistance of her close friend and companion, Elizabeth, and the support of her father, owner of one of London’s most widely-read newssheets, she begins an investigation into Austen’s life, turning over stones that some members of her family would rather leave unturned.
In Search of Jane Austen: An Investigation of a Life by Ken Methold is a stellar example of the cozy mystery genre. Set in Regency England, it is replete with observations of the cultural, social, and political mores of the period, that are woven into this fictional version of Austen’s life in such a way that it almost reads like a well-written and thoroughly-researched biography. It is, however, fictional, though based on existing historical and biographical sources.
The author’s pacing is flawless, flowing in an almost languid motion that is appropriate to the period in which it’s set. The history is included in credible, and unobtrusive bites, naturally occurring in dialogue or actions rather than massive dumps of data, not once interrupting the flow of the story. This information is, in fact, essential to understanding events as they unfold.
I don’t usually like inconclusive endings, but in this case, given the enigma that was the life of Jane Austen, the ending is totally appropriate.
This one is a must-read for the summer, and I give it a resounding five stars.