“I will not send for Mrs. Fitzwilliam, but I do mean to send word that you are safe. Neither Mrs. Darcy nor my sister deserves to spend another hour in worry over your actions.”
He could not control speaking in disappointment.
“I thought better of you, Edward.”
(from The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin)
Quick summary: The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin is the latest Pride and Prejudice mystery by Regina Jeffers. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy have been happily married for about five years and are enjoying life with their two young sons, but their world is turned upside down when Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, sends word that her husband, Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, is missing. Darcy tracks down his cousin in a seedy inn in London, drunk and in a uniform covered in dirt and blood. Fitzwilliam’s marital problems and PTSD are the least of the family’s concerns, once it becomes known that he is the prime suspect in a serious of gruesome murders.
Why I wanted to read it: I’ve long been a fan of Jeffers’ novels (check out my reviews of Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, Christmas at Pemberley, and The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy), and I was intrigued by the idea of a darker side to the charming and amiable Colonel Fitzwilliam.
What I liked: I was fascinated by this tale from start to finish, and I especially enjoyed the twists and turns of the mystery. Jeffers really digs deep into her characters, particularly Georgiana’s need to find inner strength in the face of great loss, Darcy’s realization that he is no longer his sister’s protector, and Fitzwilliam’s troubled transition to civilian life. The assortment of original characters, like Cowan, secondary characters given bigger roles, like the Earl and Countess of Matlock, and even some courtroom drama help round out the story, and I was happy to see another of my favorite Austen heroes make an appearance toward the end.
What I disliked: Nothing!
Final thoughts: The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin is a darker take on the characters of Pride and Prejudice, but it is exciting and shines in the complexity of the characters and the multilayered mystery at its core. It was hard to see Fitzwilliam in such a light, but Jeffers’ portrayal of a man who has spent a great deal of his life at war and remains haunted by his experiences is realistic and heartbreaking. Although it focuses on some heavy subjects, like PTSD, and puts Austen’s beloved characters in some dangerous and hopeless situations, the romantic moments between Darcy and Elizabeth help to lighten the mood. Jeffers had me guessing and biting my nails until the very end, a sign of a great mystery, and I hope there will be more installments in this series.
(I haven’t yet read the previous installment, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy, so that’s something to look forward to, and I should point out here that The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin can be read as a standalone novel.)
Disclosure: I received The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin from the author for review.
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