I am sure there are many, like myself, who count Pride and Prejudice among their favorite books. Those infamous first words, dashing Mr. Darcy, all those manners and curtsies…ooooh, so good! So when I spotted Death to Pemberley, by PD James, on the bookshelves I looked on with horror. A sequel? To Pride and Prejudice? Say what?! But upon reading the cover, I was intrigued. A murder mystery at Pemberley? Hmmmm…yes please!
Elizabeth and Jane are leading the peaceful existences we all imagined. Big houses near one another (one too nosy mother-in-law drove Jane and Mr. Bingley from Netherfield), pretty children and perfect husbands. All is well.
As the story opens, Pemberley is on the cusp of hosting a yearly ball. How lovely! But it’s interrupted when (guess who) Lydia arrives. Of course. And she’s in hysterics. Of course. Why? Apparently, Wickham has just been murdered.
And so the story begins. It’s really less Pride and Prejudice and more Downton Abbey (which I have no problem with. Have you seen that show? It’s awesome). Death Comes to Pemberley is a fun murder mystery. Most of the P&P gang is back but the story centralizes on Darcy. We get some insight into his relationship with Wickham and learn why it’s sometimes a bummer to be a magistrate. But this is one of the few complaints I have: not enough Elizabeth. And can I get some Mr. and Mrs. Bennet please? A small Mr. Bennet cameo is not enough. I mean, if a murder can’t inspire a family reunion, what can?
The middle of the book moves a bit slow. There’s a lot of legal talk and witness accounts are repeated. But the ending moves much more swiftly once the murder trail begins… dun, dun duuuuuuuuunnnnnnn.
There was an interesting little subplot in the book- a love triangle-of-sorts (and who doesn’t love one of those) between Georgiana, Col. Fitzwilliam, and a good-natured, poor, handsome young lawyer. Lots of attention should always be given to tension-filled romantics. Or so I believe.
But overall this is a great book if you’re looking for a quick, weekend read. It’s no masterpiece on par with P&P, nor does it need to be. I’ve always had an inkling that we hadn’t heard the last from Mr. George Wickham.