Jane and the Wandering Eye by Stephanie Barron--6.5
Third in the Jane Austen mystery series
Having been fired up by reading the first entry in this series (I read the second back in my freshman year of college), I eagerly dug into this installment. Barron has created a thoroughly interesting cast of characters, led by Jane Austen herself. Jane stumbles into this mystery when a man is found stabbed through the heart at a masquerade party. The clues immediately point to the unfortunate Lord Kinsfell, who was discovered leaning over the body holding the murder weapon. But Jane and Kinsfell's Uncle, Lord Trowbridge, are certain there is a deeper and more disturbing explanation. The two embark on an investigation, despite the town gossips who whisper about an inappropriate relationship between Austen and Trowbridge. For not only is Trowbridge of a vastly higher social station than Jane, he is also known to be rather "fast," given to dalliance and intrigue. But Jane respects Trowbridge and cannot bring herself to avoid his friendship, despite the threat of scandal. It is this tension, as Jane seeks to help Trowbridge while avoiding the disapproval of her peers, that forms the heart of the book. I confess that I stopped paying attention to the mystery and focused on this aspect far more. By the end, the wrap-up of the mystery was a bit anticlimactic, and to tell the truth, I didn't even bother to figure out the real details of what happened. I know that the relationship between Jane and Trowbridge is continued in later installments, but that it has a rather sorrowful end. I look forward to watching it progress, though I fear the outcome.