Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: Death Comes to Pemberley - P. D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley
by P. D. James
Read From: Apr. 15, 2012 - Apr. 20, 2012

What I liked first: the Author did an incredible job in imitating Jane Austen's writing style. While there certainly were times that I could tell the difference, the imitation was just amazing. P. D. James has certainly earned the right to be called a good writer. As far as Miss Austen's characters go, the Author also did justice in portraying them as closely to their original personalities as any person who isn't the original Author can. They conducted themselves in the exact manner that I imagine Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy and all the others would in a murder case. And any "Austeneer" will appreciate to cunning ways P. D. James makes little alludements to some of Austen's other books, like Persuasion and Emma.

What I didn't like: as the story progressed, it began to feel less like a murder mystery and more like the Author had written the book because she had been unsatisfied with how things were between Darcy and Wickham by the end of Pride and Prejudice. She sets up a really good mystery and has lots of elements that keep the Reader wondering. But then the trial scene comes and a big climax is built up, and then shot down. All of the little mysterious pieces are connected, but in a very humdrum, boring manner. The explanations lack any sort of excitement that is supposed to come with a murder mystery, and the web of intrigue the Reader is constantly hoping will appear doesn't. While the end of the book definitely has resolution, it still manages to feel anticlimactic as far as the murder goes.

As far as Pride and Prejudice "retellings" go, Death Comes to Pemberley is one of the more interesting ones I've read, and one of the better written ones, too. But as far as a murder mystery goes, it's pretty disappointing. The Author leads the Reader on, then more or less drops the ball on an expectant audience. If you're reading it for writing style, it's a good book. Just don't expect a good mystery.

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