The Mansfield Park Murder takes Austen’s masterpiece and turned it into a riveting murder story, long before PD James did the same. Just as in many classic English detective mysteries, the novel opens with a group of characters in a country house setting, with passions running high, and simmering tensions beneath the elegant Regency surface. The arrival of the handsome and debonair Henry Crawford and his sister forces these tensions into the open, and sparks a chain of events that leads inexorably to violence and death.
With an absolute faithfulness to the language in use at the time, The Mansfield Park Murder is both a good old-fashioned murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the very last page, and a sparklingly clever inversion of the original, which goes to the heart of many of the questions raised by Jane Austen’s text. Austen’s Mansfield Park is radically different from any of her other works, and much of the pleasure of this novel lies in the way it takes the characters and episodes in the original, and turns them into a lighter, sharper, and more playful book, with a new heroine at its centre – a heroine who owes far more to the lively and spirited Elizabeth Bennet, than the dreary and insipid Fanny Price.
The book was originally published as Murder at Mansfield Park
“A clever reworking of the Austen novel that’s strong on plot, character, and historical accuracy. … While mystery fans will find much to like, it is Austenites who will be most gratified, particularly by how well Shepherd has captured the tone of Austen’s original. For anyone who thought Henry Crawford deserved Fanny or who has a problem with vampires and ghouls invading Jane Austen’s world, this will be a delight”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A delightfully witty reimagining of Mansfield Park, with its country manor and simmering family tensions, as a classic whodunit. … Shepherd is a passionate aficionado who pays scrupulous attention to historical detail, and her mystery shines a lively light on the classic”
“A page-turner with twists and turns that keep its reader gripped until the very last page… Shepherd does a superb job of keeping the reader guessing with the twists in the plot in the race to find the murderer, and producing an unexpected heroine along the way”
Historical Novel Review
“221B Baker Street meets Mansfield Park in this debut Regency whodunit… Faithful to Austen’s elegant style without being mawkish, Shepherd’s knockoff puts a playful, irreverent twist on a beloved classic. Sure to appeal as well to fans of British murder mysteries of the Anne Perry, M.C. Beaton, and Agatha Christie varieties”
“[The Mansfield Park Murder] doesn’t satirise Austen through the prism of the British murder mystery. It’s too respectful, reverent even, towards its source to offer such an affront… for those looking to relive the pleasures of Austen, rather than see them savaged”
Sydney Morning Herald