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The Intrigue at Highbury - Or, Emma's Match: A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery    by Carrie Bebris order for
Intrigue at Highbury - Or, Emma's Match
by Carrie Bebris
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In this fifth in her Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mystery series, Carrie Bebris continues to inject murder and mayhem into the lives of various characters introduced in Jane Austen novels, with (as always) the Darcy's as investigators.

This time, Elizabeth and her husband are on their way to visit Mr. Darcy's cousins, Colonel and Anne Fitzwilliam (now married and expecting their first child). The Darcy's bring with them gifts of a gold signet ring and heirloom christening clothes passed down through generations. But they are stopped by a limping young woman in white outside the village of Highbury. While Elizabeth and her husband minister to Miss Jones, their carriage is robbed of their valuables.

Nearby, Mr. Knightley and his wife (the lead in Jane Austen's Emma) are hosting a party in honor of the marriage of Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Jane Fairfax. (Emma is also busy matchmaking for Miss Bates, a talkative vicar's daughter who has sacrificed half her life to the care of her mother.) The celebration is disrupted by the untimely death of Frank's uncle (and adoptive father), Mr. Edgar Churchill. When the Darcy's arrive to report their robbery to the justice of the peace (Mr. Knightley), he offers them accomodation.

It seems that Edgar Churchill was poisoned, but by whom and why? Mr. Knightley solicits Darcy's help with his investigation, and of course Elizabeth does her part too, while at the same time they look into the robbery that interrupted their journey. A one-armed peddler named Hiram Deal is selling his goods in the village and there are rumors of gypsies in the neighborhood. Could they be involved, but if so why? Further poisonings increase the urgency of the case, and word puzzles challenge Emma's and Elizabeth's ingenuity.

Naturally the Darcy's solve the case (which has surprising ramifications for the Churchills) and make new friends of the Knightleys in the process. I recommend this cozy series to fans of Jane Austen or of historical mysteries - and if you like both, then it's a must read.

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