The Matters at Mansfield is the fourth installment in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series, written by Carrie Bebris. The Matters at Mansfield take the characters from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and embroils them into a scandalous murder mystery that must be solved by Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. (For those who know black and white films and know what The Thin Man series is, the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy characters are exactly like Nick and Nora)
This book takes the Darcy’s to Riverton house for an engagement party for their cousin Roger Fitzwilliam. They wish to be back at Pemberley enjoying the peace and quiet with their new daughter. While at Riverton they discover that Lady Catherine de Bourgh is planning a well to do marriage for Anne and that Anne is completely unaware of the plan. While everyone is at a ball one evening, Anne makes her escape. A note is found from Anne telling Elizabeth that she has left with Mr. Henry Crawford and they are going to Gretna Green to be married.
“Forgive my burdening you with the responsibility of imparting news to my mother which it will distress her to hear, but you alone understand the decision I now make. ….Tonight I leave for Gretna Green with Mr. Crawford.”
Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam leave at once to try to reach the couple before the marriage ceremony takes place. Upon arriving in Gretna Green they find the young couple married. Darcy and Fitzwilliam tell them they must start to journey back towards Riverton so that they can face the wrath of Lady Catherine. On the way back they stop in Mansfield to change the horses when Anne befalls an accident. A carriage runs over her, rending her unable to walk for a time. They are forced to stay in Mansfield until Anne is healed. While there they learn that most of Mansfield is familiar with Mr. Crawford and that the town is ripe with gossip of his return. Darcy and Fitzwilliam vow that they will find out what is amiss when who else but Lady Catherine and Elizabeth show up. Soon after her arrival gossip begins about Crawford, a second wife shows up, and murders begin happening. It’s up to Darcy and Elizabeth to figure out what is going on and fast, or run the risk of the family honor lost forever.
While I was interested in the goings-on of this novel, it was my least favorite of the four I’ve read so far. The first three novels in the series I read cover to cover in one sitting. This one took me a few days to complete, as each time I picked it up I couldn’t get into it. I think that it was an interesting and original idea, but there was A LOT going on in this one. I found myself repeating passages and going back a few chapters to re-read parts to remember who a character was or what their connection to person x was. It really was a great mystery, but I think that it was just a bit much to process in the amount of pages written.
3 out of 5 Stars