A few years ago, I watched “Death Comes to Pemberley,” a murder mystery by the late P.D. James based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. When George Wickham is accused of a murder he didn’t commit, Mr. Darcy puts his reputation on the line to clear Wickham’s name and save him from the gallows.
It was riveting, high-stakes stuff. Darcy must prove the innocence of a man known far and wide as a rake and a liar. A man he has long despised. Why risk his own reputation? Why bother? Because Darcy believes – he knows – that in this particular instance, Wickham is telling the truth. He’s innocent. And to Darcy, justice is everything.
The idea of Austen characters involved in a murder mystery intrigued me. What if, I wondered (as writers often do), a modern-day woman, an academic and a respected Jane Austen scholar, finds herself in the middle of a small-town murder mystery? What if she has an equally strong desire to see justice done, no matter the cost?
After years of writing romantic comedy, I was ready for a change. A challenge. I wanted to write something with a murder, a modern amateur sleuth, and a mystery to solve.
And Professor Phaedra Brighton was born.
She teaches English Literature at Somerset University, a small liberal arts college near Charlottesville, Virginia. She lives in a restored carriage house, drives an aging but reliable Mini Cooper, and considers Mr. Darcy to be the perfect man.
From the modest neckline of her Empire-waist dress to the soles of her silk slippers, Phaedra is the height of fashion…circa 1810. Her mother doesn’t understand her love for all things Regency and often asks if there’s a man in her life.
Phaedra’s answer is always a firm no. She’s thirty-four, single, and definitely not in want of a husband.
The only male in her life is a finicky Himalayan cat named Wickham. As founder and chair of the Jane Austen Tea Society, Phaedra meets monthly with faculty friends Lucy Liang and Marisol Dubois to share tea, discuss books, and gossip.
But when she stumbles across a body sprawled in an antique bathtub, the Tea Society becomes a place to share her theories and discuss suspects with her friends . . . and hopefully, to catch a murderer!
About the author
My name is Katie Oliver. I’ve been writing for several years but I’m brand new to the cozy mystery genre. I’m the author of the Dating Mr. Darcy and Marrying Mr. Darcy series. Last year I decided to switch things up and wrote a cozy mystery. The result, the first book in my Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery series, Pride, Prejudice, and Peril, was published by Berkley in December 2021.
I live in South Florida along with my husband and an ever-growing stack of cozy mysteries waiting to be read.