In Stephanie Barron's third Jane Austen Mystery, the beloved author embarks on her most perplexing case...as misplaced passions, festering malice, and the desire for revenge serve to conceal the true motives for murder. As Christmas of 1804 approaches, Jane Austen finds herself "insupportably bored with Bath, and the littlenesses of a town, " despite the seasonal gaiety, the elegant Assemblies, and the appearance of a celebrated pair of actors at the Theatre Royal. It is with something like relief, then, that she accepts a peculiar commission from her Gentleman Rogue, Lord Harold Trowbridge - to shadow his niece, Lady Desdemona, who has fled to Bath to avoid the attentions of the arrogant and unsavoury Earl of Swithin. But at a masquerade thronged with the fashionable and the notorious, Jane's idle diversion suddenly turns deadly. Even as actor Hugh Conyngham transfixes the guests with his declamation of Macbeth's murderous soliloquy, his theatre manager is discovered stabbed to death in an anteroom. Weeping on his breast is Hugh's sister, the spirited tragedienne Maria Conyngham. And standing by the body, knife in hand, is Desdemona's brother, Simon, Lord Kinsfell. In vain does Simon protest his innocence: he is arrested and charged with murder. Jane, however, knows that there is more to this fatal drama than meets the eye. And what is one to surmise from the stormy portrait of an eye left lying on the corpse? As Yuletide revels progress, Jane's delicate inquiries expose a bewildering array of suspects amid an endlessly shifting pattern of flirtations, amours, and sinister entanglements.
Stephanie Barron is the author of eight previous Jane Austen mysteries. She lives in Colorado, where she is at work on the next Jane Austen mystery.
"A glimpse of what Jane Austen's world was like, as well as an intriguing mystery."--Rocky Mountain News "Barron seamlessly weaves...a delightful and lively tale....Period details bring immediacy to a neatly choreographed dance through Bath society."--Publishers Weekly "Barron's high level of invention testifies to an easy acquaintance with upper-class life and culture in Regency England and a fine grasp of Jane Austen's own literary style--not to mention a mischievous sense of fun."--The New York Times Book Review