When eighteen-year-old aspiring scientist Elinor Dashwood discovers her beloved father slumped over the desk of his office study, she knows his death means dire straits for the Dashwood women. To make matters worse, an outdated will entails his estate—including Norland & Company, the private investigation firm where her younger sister Marianne worked as her father’s partner and protégé—to their half-brother and his haughty wife, who waste no time in forcing the Dashwoods out of their home and into a cramped apartment on London’s Barton Street.
But before they go, the Dashwood sisters make a startling discovery: a suspicious substance in their father’s teacup—one that can only be described as poison. And poison, as Marianne’s father taught her, always points to murder.
It could be dangerous; it could ruin their reputations; and most importantly, it won’t bring back their father. But if the Dashwood sisters can combine their talents and bring their father’s murderer to justice, it may bring them all some comfort—and it might even lead to love.
The second book of Tirzah Price’s Jane Austen Murder Mystery series is just as good as the first, if not better! While the book essentially takes place in the same universe as Pride and Premeditation, the events of that book are only mentioned at the end, and therefore this book can be read as a stand-alone. Don’t let the ‘series’ part make you feel as though you have to read the other book first.
Unlike the first book, I made a point to read Sense and Sensibility before reading this so I would be familiar with the original storyline and characters that Price uses for her semi-modernized twist to the classics. It does help to know the original story beforehand, but again, it’s not necessary. It took me some time to stop confusing Marianne and Margaret with each other, as their names are similar, but that was my only issue.
I loved how different the Dashwood sisters were, though the youngest, Margaret, was my favorite in this retelling due to her excitement and passion for writing. Her little outbursts of how what was going on would make a great scene for a story had me laughing because I know that feeling so well. The bond between the sisters was great, even when there was tension between them (Elinor and Marianne), but it was strong enough that even when they were upset with one another, they were there for each other. The best aspect of the story is how each of the sisters’ different interests helped them to figure out the mystery of their father’s murder, as well as another that seems to be related to his.
I can’t really say much about this book without giving anything away, so just know that I loved this one as much as Pride and Premeditation, and it’s one that I would highly recommend. I love how authors are taking classics and making them their own by either modernizing them or adding a twist to it to make it more appealing for readers today. And I have to say, Price’s twist of murder mystery and women empowerment is a fantastic twist to Jane Austen’s work.
If you haven’t read Pride and Premeditation or Sense and Second-Degree Murder, I say you should give them a shot! There is also a third book to this collection coming out this summer, Manslaughter Park, and I plan to pre-order my copy soon!
Rating: 5/5 stars
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