Review: There Must Be Murder

Jul 22, 2013 by

This review was first posted on Indie Jane in 2011.  We are reposting it as a suggestion for summer reading.  We hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

I have been putting off writing this review for a quite sometime. I actually finished reading There Must Be Murder several weeks ago, and my plan was to get the review written and ready to post all super early and be Little Miss Organized. But I haven’t written it until just now . . . and here is why:

 

This book absolutely rocks.

 

Not quite the reason you were expecting, right? So why, if I love the book (and I do), am I finding it difficult to write a review for it? It pretty much boils down to the fact that I want to sound unbiased and scholarly but all I can think to say is:

 

There Must Be Murder is fun and awesome. Go buy it. The end.

 

It’s just kind of a little bit too short of review, but I can’t just gush all over the place. Really, people, I don’t want you to lose all respect for me as a reviewer. I’m known for my measured and dry reporting of facts and tepid responses. Um, who am I kidding?

 

So, my darlings, prepare for gushing.

 

There Must Be Murder is a sequel to Austen’s Northanger Abbey in novella form. It takes place a year after Henry and Catherine first meet, and follows the newlyweds on their return visit to Bath. While the young married couple is blissfully happy, Bath is still full of social intrigue. There is a certain rake that is paying too much attention to Catherine, a pretty young heiress who may or may not have a past with Henry Tilney, and Henry’s father is considering marrying again! The object of his matrimonial designs is a wealthy widow and there seems to be suspicious circumstances surrounding her late husband’s demise. Of course, Catherine wouldn’t be Catherine if she were not intrigued by this possible mystery.

 

Also, there are pictures! Yes! Charming sketches depicting all of the main players and scenes drawn by Cassi Chouinard. The wonderful illustrations help set this novella apart and are worth the price of admission (or cost of the book in this case) on their own merit. Luckily for us readers, they are paired with an incredibly well-written and satisfying story!

 

Margaret Sullivan captures the feel of Austen, and the peculiar feel of Northanger Abbey, very well. Her prose is captivating and witty without being over the top or feeling affected. Catherine Tilney has learned much, but she still is young and naive, and it is enjoyable to watch her start to come into her own. Henry is just as charming and clever as he is in Northanger Abbey, and a doting husband to boot. I think Tilney fans will be happy with this representation of their favorite hero.

 

I really enjoyed There Must Be Murder. My one teensy, tiny complaint is that it was over too soon! Actually, in all honesty, it was the perfect length. The story gets told in a pleasing manner. It is tight, well-paced, true to the characters and to Austen. It is a novella, and it is perfect as such. I was just enjoying myself far too much to want it to end! However, I am very hopeful that we will see longer works in the future by Ms. Sullivan.

 

This review is getting rather long, so I will sum up:

 

There Must Be Murder is fun and awesome. Go buy it. The end.

 

****

Margaret C. Sullivan is the Editrix of AustenBlog.com, a compendium of news and commentary about Jane Austen’s work in popular culture. She is the author of The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, and contributed to the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Her latest project is an annotated version of Sense and Sensibility due out this month from Girlebooks/Librifiles. You can also visit Margaret at her personal site Tilneys and Trapdoors.

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