“If Henry Crawford found dealing with his own mother-in-law unpleasant, Maria Rushworth’s is worse. Today has been enough to make me grateful for my own.”
“Indeed? My mother will be in such transport over your admission that she might require a visit of several months to sufficiently vocalize her felicity. Shall we invite her to Pemberley as soon as we return ourselves?
“I am not that grateful.”
(from The Matters at Mansfield, page 103)
Quick summary: The Matters at Mansfield, or The Crawford Affair is the fourth book in the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series by Carrie Bebris. The novel brings Elizabeth and Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, along with their baby daughter, to Riveton Hall as a guest of Darcy’s cousin, the Earl of Southwell. While Lady Catherine is scheming behind her daughter’s back to arrange a seemingly advantageous marriage, Elizabeth inadvertently encourages Anne to make her own decisions. After Anne elopes with Henry Crawford, the Darcys, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lady Catherine find themselves at an inn near Mansfield Park, and the Darcys soon find themselves sorting through a case of multiple identities, duals, betrayals, and of course, murder.
Why I wanted to read it: I loved the first book in the series, Pride and Prescience, and am intrigued by the Darcys as amateur sleuths.
What I liked: The Matters at Mansfield is the fourth in the series, but it stands on its own. I couldn’t bring myself to return this book to the library unread, so I took a chance and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of spoilers from the previous installments. I loved how Anne shocked her mother by running off to get married, and I loved seeing a more sinister side to Lady Catherine. I wasn’t sure how Bebris would bring together Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, but it worked. I figured out who the villain was early on, but that didn’t bother me, especially since all the twists in the murder mystery kept me on my toes.
What I disliked: I only wish the characters from Mansfield Park, aside from Henry Crawford, had been featured more prominently.
Final thoughts: This is such a delightful series! The mysteries are complex enough to hold my attention, even if I do manage to pick out the villain fairly quickly, and they are well paced. I enjoy watching Elizabeth and Darcy mature as a couple and as detectives, and I love to see them interact with characters from Austen’s other novels. I definitely intend to read the whole series.
Disclosure: I borrowed The Matters at Mansfield from the public library.
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