Title: The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: Historical Regency Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller, Suspense, Classic Historical Romance, Austenesque Vagary
A THRILLING STORY OF MURDER AND BETRAYAL FILLED WITH THE SCANDAL, WIT AND INTRIGUE CHARACTERISTIC OF AUSTEN’S CLASSIC NOVELS
Fitzwilliam Darcy is devastated. The joy of his recent wedding has been cut short by the news of the sudden death of his father’s beloved cousin, Samuel Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to Dorset, a popular Regency resort area, to pay their respects to the well-traveled and eccentric Samuel. But this is no summer holiday. Danger bubbles beneath Dorset’s peaceful surface as strange and foreboding events begin to occur. Several of Samuel’s ancient treasures go missing, and then his body itself disappears. As Darcy and Elizabeth investigate this mystery and unravel its tangled ties to the haunting legends of Dark Dorset, the legendary couple’s love is put to the test when sinister forces strike close to home. Some secrets should remain secrets, but Darcy will do all he can to find answers—even if it means meeting his own end in the damp depths of a newly dug grave.
With malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy will keep Austen fans and mystery readers turning the pages right up until its dramatic conclusion.
The housekeeper continued her tale and the punishing exercise. When they exited the field over a like stile, Elizabeth realized this was a part of the Darcy estate with which she was unfamiliar, but she brushed the thought aside as she hiked her skirt to maintain her gait. If Mrs. Ridgeway thought her a pampered lady of the ton, the housekeeper was in for a surprise. Elizabeth was not afraid of a long walk or a steady stride.
“Apparently, Mr. Barriton took Mrs. Jacobs prisoner and threatened to kill the woman.”
Elizabeth heard the derision in Mrs. Ridgeway’s voice. She supposed the housekeeper thought Mrs. Jacobs deserved part of her punishment. Elizabeth said cautiously, “Mr. Darcy and Mr. McKye journeyed to Mr. Rupp’s field to stop Mr. Barriton.”
“Well, they certainly managed to accomplish their task,” the housekeeper declared. “One of Mr. Tregonwell’s men shot Mr. Barriton after the man shoved Mrs. Jacobs into the fire the coven had built in Mr. Rupp’s field.”
Fear skated along Elizabeth’s spine. She offered up a silent prayer that it had not been Darcy who had dispatched Mr. Barriton. She thought such an act would lie heavily on her husband’s conscience. “Was Mrs. Jacobs injured badly?”
The housekeeper led Elizabeth deeper into the woods. Elizabeth supposed this was the shortcut to Stowe Hall, which Samuel Darcy had traversed the night he died. The thought of how easily someone had overcome the trusting archaeologist sent a shiver of dread down Elizabeth’s spine. She glanced around to learn her bearings.
“According to Mr. Holbrook, he was to seek the services of the junior surgeon Mr. Glover had once trained,” Mrs. Ridgeway shared.
“Mr. Newby,” Elizabeth provided the name.
Mrs. Ridgeway confided. “If Geoffrey Glover trained the man, Mr. Newby will serve this community well. Mr. Glover was a man of science.”
Elizabeth’s patience had worn thin. She had thought to permit Mrs. Ridgeway her moment. In some ways, she supposed she owed the housekeeper that much, for Mrs. Ridgeway’s forced exit from Woodvine had placed the woman in an untenable position. In truth, Elizabeth harbored a bit of guilt for having dismissed the woman, but she could no longer tolerate the lack of news of her husband. “Please,” she said as she came to a halt. “I beg of you; speak to me of Mr. Darcy. I cannot bear not knowing.”
The housekeeper came to an abrupt standstill. She turned to Elizabeth, and with a smile of what appeared to be satisfaction, she said, “Mr. Holbrook was to fetch the surgeon to tend your husband. It appears Mr. Darcy fought with the butler. Your husband was stabbed with some sort of ceremonial knife. Mr. Holbrook says Mr. Darcy has lost a sizable quantity of blood.”
Elizabeth felt her legs buckle, and she could do little to prevent herself from sinking to her knees. Darcy had been seriously injured. While she slept at her small desk, her husband had lain in a field, possibly bleeding to death. “Dear God,” her trembling lips offered in supplication. “Do not take him from me.” She swayed in place as the darkness rushed in.
“Mrs. Darcy,” the housekeeper said brusquely. “We have no time for histrionics.” Despite wishing to rock herself for comfort, Elizabeth gave herself a sound mental shake. She bit her lip to prevent the cry of anguish on the tip of her tongue. She looked up into the disapproving countenance of the housekeeper. However, Elizabeth did not apologize; instead she managed to stagger to her feet. “What else should I know?” Elizabeth asked fearfully.
“Mr. Stowbridge sent word of his late return to Stowe Hall. In the message, he indicated that the surgeon had seen to your husband and had advised Mr. Darcy to permit Mrs. Rupp to nurse him until a coach could be sent from Woodvine. However, Mr. Darcy insisted on returning to your side.”
Elizabeth thought how like Darcy it was to recognize her concern and, therefore, place himself in danger in order to relieve Elizabeth’s anxiety. “Where is my husband now? At Stowe Hall?”
“They found him on the road after he could not sit his horse. Mr. Newby is treating Mr. Darcy in a small tenants’ cottage while Mr. Holbrook escorts Mrs. Jacobs to Woodvine and returns with a wagon. Tregonwell’s men assist Mr. Stowbridge with the investigation and the prisoners.” The woman turned back to the path, and Elizabeth fell in step beside her. “It was thought that Mr. Darcy would prove a better patient with you in attendance.”
Despite the seriousness of the situation, a smile shaped Elizabeth’s lips. She could easily imagine an aristocratic Darcy barking orders to the young surgeon. That is if he were able, Elizabeth cautioned the knot lodged firmly in her chest. “Where is this cottage?” she asked in concern.
“One more field to cross,” Mrs. Ridgeway said confidently. “See.” The woman pointed to where a thatched roof could be seen behind an overgrown hedgerow.
Elizabeth quickened her stride. “Why in the world would they have taken shelter in such a deserted area?”
The housekeeper shrugged her shoulders. “It is the way of men to make women’s lives complicated.”
Elizabeth rushed across the field, which now stood fallow. Her heart pounded in her ears from the speed of their journey and from the all-encompassing fear that surrounded her. Would she be in time? Mr. Holbrook had said Mr. Darcy had lost a sizeable quantity of blood. Men did not normally worry so unless danger existed. Was Mr. Newby skilled enough to stop the bleeding? What of infection? She lifted her skirts higher and quickened her pace. Soon she was running, needing to reach Darcy before it was too late.
Gasping for air, Elizabeth burst into the small cottage, nothing more than a one-room sanctuary from the cold, to discover a profound silence. Nothing moved within. Her chest heaved from her run and from the heart-stopping realization Mrs. Ridgeway had erred somehow. She caught at the stitch of pain in her side. “Where is he? Where is my husband?” she croaked.
An arm caught her across the neck while another hand placed a large damp handkerchief over her mouth and nose. From behind her, a harsh voice stung her ear. “Dead. Mr. Darcy is dead.”
Why is your featured book a must-read?
A mystery allows the reader the “thrill” of the chase, the buildup of tension, the experience of something grisly without being harmed, and a look into the criminal mind. It is delightful to discover the villain is someone very different from us, and that the wrongdoer is punished and justice is done.
If one loves to unravel a puzzle, he/she will adore The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy, for not only does the reader figure out who did what to whom along with the amateur sleuths in the tale, but there is enough historical facts to make the plot genuine.
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Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
Social Media Links:
Every Woman Dreams: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Austen Authors: http://austenauthors.net
YouTube Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzgjdUigkkU
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