Stephanie Barron's mystery book Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas is the perfect cozy mystery for Austen-lovers at this time of year.
Not only does it have a gorgeous cover, but it is filled with historical treats for Austen fans as well as a well-paced, "clew"-strewn puzzle.
In this, the twelfth "Being A Jane Austen Mystery" installation, Jane is on her way to visit her brother at Steventon Parsonage for the Christmas holidays. Barron does an excellent job of describing his cold, stingy home and his lazy, dramatic wife. After a dangerous accident along the way, the Austens are thankfully invited to spend the holidays at The Vyne, an opulent historic house where they are in much better care. Shortly after they arrive; however, an unexpected guest is murdered and the frivolity of the season comes to an end.
Barron's depiction of Jane Austen as a witty and clever detective is both believable and delightful. Her methodical and level-headed mind seems the perfect match for solving mysteries. Whenever I read her series, I wish I had thought of the concept first! Barron's extensive research and knowledge of Austen's work, life and letters is obvious throughout the book without becoming burdensome. Her stitching of fiction and nonfiction is seamless.
One of my favourite mini-dramas in the book is the twelve gifts Cassandra and Jane give their 10-year-old niece, Caroline on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. What is a book about Christmas without gifts, after all? The addition of Mr. West as a detective partner is also intriguing. I highly recommend this holiday read.