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He’s dead! Oh God, Denny’s dead!  He was my friend, my only friend, and I’ve killed him!  I’ve killed him!  It’s my fault.

Book:  Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.

Synopsis:  It is six years after Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam marry.  The couple and their two boys are happily situated at Pemberley.  It is a few days before Lady Anne’s Ball, which is held at Pemberley, and named after  Darcy’s mother.  On the evening before the ball (or maybe it was two evenings before the ball), Darcy witnesses a coach driven pell mell down the long drive of Pemberley.

My God!  What does that fool of a coachman think he’s doing?  He’ll have the whole chaise over!  This is madness.  And who on earth are they?

The lone passenger is Lydia Wickham, Elizabeth and Jane’s foolish sister. As the coach comes to an abrupt stop, Lydia emerges, hysterical and crying, that her husband and his friend Denny were in the woods and that her husband has been murdered. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam mount a rescue expedition.

The men brave the stormy elements to venture in the Pemberley woods, which has a haunted reputation.  They come upon Wickham, who is leaning over the bloody body of his friend, and he brokenly sobs what sounds like a confession of murder.

I admit that I have a difficult time reading sequels of books whose original authors have passed on.  Part of me doesn’t want to, but sometimes you can’t help it. The possibility of meeting, once more, those beloved characters is too much of  a temptation.

What I liked:  I am a fan of Pride and Prejudice, and I enjoyed reading how the author envisioned the future of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy.  I liked how Jane and Bingley lived nearby.

The book starts a bit slow, but it is easy to read, and soon, you find yourself wondering whether Wickham really did kill his friend.

You get more insight into the main characters of Wickham, Darcy, Georgiana, Colonel Fitzwilliam. In addition, you learn more about characters who played a minor part Pride and Prejudice, but take more of a major role in this book.

My favorite parts of the book were the last few chapters when the author tidily wraps up loose ends.  I think Ms. Austen would have liked that.  She also cleverly ties in characters from Ms. Austen’s other novels.

What I didn’t like:  I was never truly convinced that these were the same characters from the original novel.   While possessing the same names and mannerisms, the soul of the character was different.  It was almost like someone buried the original characters in the Stephen King’s Pet Semetary and they had come back to life, as a shadow of the original (but not bad or evil).  I suspect that the problem may arise from the setting of the plot—murder. I did not feel the same lightheartedness that was in Pride and Prejudice.

All in all, I don’t think this book is a bad read.

Rate: 3/5

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