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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick. http://www.faysampson.co.uk

Two Great English Mystery Novels of 2011

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ February 15, 2012

2011 was a great year for the mystery novel, as authors young and old stepped up their game to produce some of the most nuanced and exhilarating works of the genre. While popular U.S. mystery authors like Janet Evanovich and Susan Grafton boast huge sales of their latest novels, lesser known authors published new works that challenged conventions of the genre. Louise Penny’s psychological thriller A Trick of the Light and Rosamund Lupton’s family-twist on the detective story in Sister are two entries that continue to keep mystery fiction continually fresh and exciting.

English authors produced equally suspenseful and outstanding mystery fiction in 2011, if perhaps to less coverage in the U.S. Two works in particular stood head and shoulders other mystery novels I read last year, and I can’t stop recommending them to any who’ll listen. Check out my brief preview of these two books below.
Death Comes to Pemberley
P.D. James definitely takes a risk with her newest mystery, Death Comes to Pemberley, a successful effort that blends period fiction with murder mystery and, improbably, a continuation of the storyline begun in Pride and Prejudice. Yes, I mean Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. P.D. James’s story takes place several years after the events of the classic novel, at the residence of the infamous Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. The focus of the novel hinges on the improbable murder of a famous character from Pride and Prejudice, in an intriguing tale that proved to be much more of an absorbing page-turner than I had anticipated.
P.D. James effortlessly continues Austen’s meditation on the class differences and silly culture of manners that comprise the Victorian gentry. It’s quite an ambitious task for an author to continue writing about the characters of an English classic, particularly when the story revolves around murder and deceit, but James pulls off the task flawlessly. I highly recommend Death Comes to Pemberley for lovers of suspense fiction and Austen fans alike.
A Lesson in Secrets (A Maisie Dobbs Novel)
Jacqueline Winspear continues her well-received Maisie Dobbs detective series with the electrifying entry, A Lesson in Secrets. In it, the always methodical and sharp witted Maisie Dobbs navigates the nuances corrupt underbelly of a Cambridge university while, among other things, getting accustomed to her new(ish) romantic relationship. As you’d expect from a Jacqueline Winspear story, this book perfectly marries suspense, thoughtful character development and thorough historical research to this unique (and highly volatile) period in British history.
As you may know, part of the novelty of the series lies in its historical context, set between the two World Wars that so heavily affected British culture. The timely setting of A Lesson in Secrets plays into the plot, which involves Maisie’s interaction with covert and overt members of the newly growing Nazi party, whose machinations are at least part of the “secrets” referenced in the title. She also must grapple with revelations about the British involvement in the first World War and in turn work to prevent their repercussions from affecting her investigations on the university campus. A delightful and quick read, Jacqueline Winspear’s new novel is a perfect addition to the ongoing detective narrative in English mystery fiction. 
License for the featured photo: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/deed.en
Byline:
This is a guest post by Jane Smith from background check. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to: janesmth161 @ gmail.com
 


 

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Reader Comments:

Thank you for sharing your reviews, jane. i read and loved DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY. i even wrote a fan letter to Baroness James, which she very kindly answered. I haven't read A LESSON IN SECRETS, but have enjoyed other Maisie Dobbs stories.

And thank you for the gorgeous Union Jack picture! God save the Queen!
-Donna, February 15, 2012

Thanks for posting these. As a British author living in the US, I do enjoy hearing of mysteries with English settings. I especially like your review of Death Comes to Pemberly and will check it out.
-Jenny Hilborne, February 15, 2012

I hope you enjoy it, Jenny. As a devout Janeite I loved it. i thought the characters b ehaved just as "the real" Elizabeth and Darcy, etc. would have done.
-Donna, February 16, 2012

A friend was telling me last night how good Death comes to Pemberley is. I think I'll have to add to my to-read list.
-Sheila Deeth, February 17, 2012

Oh, I know, Sheila--the TBR stacks just get higher and higher, don't they? But this one is definitely worth it.
-Donna, February 17, 2012

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