cover image Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Stephanie Barron. Soho Crime, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61695-423-9

Early in Barron’s enchanting 12th Jane Austen mystery (after 2011’s Jane and the Canterbury Tale), Jane receives a letter dated Dec. 25, 1814, from Elizabeth Chute, the wife of a prominent member of Parliament, inviting her and her family to come stay for a few days at the Vyne. Jane is pleased to leave Steventon Parsonage “to join the Christmas gaieties at one of the first houses in the neighborhood,” even if Mary, the wife of her brother James, complains that it’s a “great, old, draughty place.” On the Feast of St. Stephan, Lt. John Gage arrives at the Vyne from Ghent, bearing the signed peace treaty that has ended the War of 1812. The next day, Gage breaks his neck after falling from his horse, and the treaty disappears. Vivid characters propel the subtle plot to its surprising conclusion. The first-person narration captures Austen’s tone as revealed in her letters: candid, loving, and occasionally acerbic. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, ICM Partners/Sagalyn. (Nov.)