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The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray


I was not sure what to expect from this book. Gray takes all the characters from Jane Austen novels (aged ~20 years on), sticks them together at a house party, and gets them stuck inside there due to weather. Mr. Wickham shows up uninvited and gets similarly stuck with them; all the other characters have issues with him for various different reasons. Obviously, he's murdered, and then they have to figure out who did it. I love Jane Austen and have read all of her books, although at this point it has been a long time since I have read any of them besides Pride and Prejudice. That one I know quite well, but the others are just sort of in the back of my mind.

Mr. Wickham is a character from Pride and Prejudice - conveniently for me, I did remember that. As with a good Agatha Christie novel, the guy who is murdered is shown to be a particularly bad kind of character so you feel zero sympathy for the guy and zero sadness for the fact that he gets murdered. And then it just becomes a classic whodunit. The way in which the characters are explored as to what they would look like 20 years later was impressive. I was really pulled into how the characters are formed and the storylines around them. Their relationships evolve through the book, both because of the murder itself and because of their backstories as they relate to the murder, which is all impressively well researched and thought out.

I will say, for some reason that I cannot quite put my finger on, there were parts when the book seemed to drag a bit - it just got a little bit…bland in some parts. It’s not like I was looking for something super dramatic to happen, so I can't really say how I would fix it per se, but I felt like I lost the thread a couple of times, and it became a little too easy to put the book down. Overall, it wasn't one of those books where I was just so engaged that I lost track of time and I absolutely totally not want to put it down until I finished the entire book. But the overall storyline was well done, and the way in which the murder wraps up felt plausible rather than overly dramatic or trying to wrap everything up into a nice package.

There is also a very tame romance that goes on behind the scenes with the younger characters: one of them is the son of the Darcys and the other one is Juliet, who attends the house party without her parents, and their story is unbearably cute. He’s written as neurodiverse, and her unaffected, patient way of handling him and his needs is really touching. I would totally read an epilogue that sees them meeting again.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, I would strongly recommend reading this book. You'll really like it. If you feel inclined to re-read Jane Austen prior to reading this book, I might recommend that. There is a prologue at the front of the book that sets up all the characters, and I found myself needing to refer back to that periodically and think, “okay, how was that character involved again? What was the relationship with her husband like?” I guess I felt like I had not quite connected with some of the characters as much as I probably could have if had read those books more recently.

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