The Suspicion at Sanditon (Or, The Disappearance of Lady Denham)

The Suspicion at Sanditon (Or, The Disappearance of Lady Denham)The Suspicion at Sanditon (Or, The Disappearance of Lady Denham)
by Carrie Bebris
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780765327994
Series: A Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery #7
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Pages: 336
Publisher: Tor Books

The Suspicion at Sanditon, the next adventure in Carrie Bebris's award-winning Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series takes Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy to Sanditon, the setting of Jane Austen's final work.

There, accompanied by their friend Miss Charlotte Heywood, they encounter an array of eccentric villagers and visitors. Among Sanditon's most prominent residents: Lady Denham, a childless, twice-widowed dowager with a fortune to bequeath and a flight of distant relations circling for a place in her will.

The Darcys have scarcely settled into their lodgings when Lady Denham unexpectedly invites them to a dinner party. Thirteen guests assemble at Sanditon House-but their hostess never appears. As a violent storm rises, a search for Lady Denham begins. The Darcys, like most of their fellow attendees, speculate that one of her ladyship's would-be heirs has grown impatient .?.?. until the guests start to vanish one by one.

Does a kidnapper lurk in the centuries-old mansion, or is a still more sinister force at work? As the night grows short, the dwelling's population grows thin, and tales of Sanditon House's storied past emerge, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy find themselves leading a desperate effort to discover what has happened to Lady Denham and the missing guests, before they all-perhaps even Elizabeth and Darcy themselves-disappear.

The Regency era's answer to Nick and Nora Charles, the Darcys once again demonstrate their quick wits and signature wit as they search for the truth-universally acknowledged and otherwise.

I struggled at the beginning with this one; partially, I’m sure, because Sanditon is the only one of Austen’s works I haven’t read.  This made it very difficult for me to keep track of all the characters (there’s a lot of them).

Elizabeth and Darcy find themselves at Sanditon on the behest of Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is considering an investment in Sanditon’s development as a resort for families of good quality.  An impromptu dinner invitation from Lady Denham lands them in the middle of a mess that begins with Lady Denham’s disappearance.

Once I sorted out the who’s who and got past the story setup, the book became a lot of fun.  We have a large important house, a terrible storm, a missing Lady, and a bit of a locked room mystery vibe from the whole thing, with just a touch of the gothic.  Some of the reveal was a bit silly but not enough for me to roll my eyes.

Has the author has kept true to the real Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy?  Certainly I thought so when I read her first book, Pride and Prescience.  But I’ve read all 7 of them and after 7 books I can’t say the two of them haven’t become Bebris’ own characters in some ways.  This book is also told in the 3 person narrative, so we actually spend a lot of time with the others, and overall, the reader gets very little time with either Darcy or Elizabeth.  Bebris has an afterward at the end that talks about how she studied Sanditon by accessing and studying Austen’s original manuscript.  I imagine this allowed her to remain true to the other characters as well, even as she speculated about what kind of people they might have been had Austen lived to complete the work.

I’m curious whether Bebris will continue on with this series; she’s run out of novels and manuscripts to use for characters and settings.  This would be the logical place to bring things to a close, but if she comes out with another I might give it a try.

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