The one where Mr. Darcy turns detective: non JAFF detective fiction influencing Lover’s Knot (or Regency Sleuths whom I have loved…)
Thank you to Maria Grazia for having me back at My Jane Austen Book Club. It is a pleasure and an honour to visit with my new book, “Lover’s Knot”.
“Detective” is not an epithet that fits particularly well on the shoulders of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. At least, not at first sight. The Regency is not the right period for a start, being well before the heyday of crime fiction and prior to the literary evolution of the “gentleman detective”. The formation of the police as we know and understand them had only just begun. What is more, fighting crime just isn’t what everyone’s favourite hero is about. Mr. Darcy’s world view was likely narrower than that of your average sleuth. He is, after all, a gentleman of the landed classes, a reluctant character of the ton, a man of means and a man of his age. His focus is family, home, close friends, dependants. He doesn’t look too hard at the wider world and nobody asks that he does.
But that doesn’t mean that, in the right moment, he would not do his bit to solve a crime. Mr. Darcy does after all have a sense of justice and a character willing to take unpopular steps. So I started to think that for him to turn detective - he just needed the right moment. That is what I try to give him in “Lover’s Knot”. In this guest post, I’d like to share the detective fiction that has most influenced me in casting Mr. Darcy as a detective. Because this is a Regency story, I particularly recommend my favourite Regency crime stories.
My love of detective fiction began with the one and only, Queen of Crime. Reading an Agatha Christie - or an “Aggie” as they were known in our house, was a mainstay of leisure when I was growing up. I loved too, the old TV adaptations. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the theme tune to the old Joan Hickson Miss Marples warbling away in the background. Over the years, I believe I have read them all, but a couple have special resonance and I suspect have influenced me in writing “Lover’s Knot”. The very first Poirot mystery - “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” - is probably my favourite. Captain Hastings - who accompanies Poirot on most, if not quite all of his adventures, tells the story. And there is something about his blundering assumptions that is reflected in the Mr. Darcy of “Lover’s Knot” part 1.
There are some wonderful Regency murder mysteries out there if you look. Would that there were more.
Most famously, there are the Sebastian St Cyr mysteries of C. S. Harris. Sebastian, Viscount Devlin is a complex soul who I dare you not to fall in love with. An aristocrat and an outcast, a former solider, haunted by evil. A lover, bound by honour and a sense of justice. A man of almost superhuman senses, seeing in the dark, protected by his own wits and physical prowess. Sebastian’s crime fighting career commences when he is falsely accused of a murder and forced to seek the real culprit himself. Thereafter, he becomes a sort of aristocratic sleuth - hunting down murders in all manner of Regency settings with Prinny and Jane Austen as walk on characters. In addition to the murder mystery in each story - the stories include politics, espionage and, courtesy of Sebastian’s chequered personal life, romance. There are 12 books in the series and a 13th coming this April (not that I am counting down the days or anything like that).
Much less well known, but wonderfully brilliant are the Julian Kestral mysteries of Kate Ross. A sad tale sits behind the obscurity of this inventive and intriguing Regency mystery series. And that is that Kate Ross died of cancer, tragically young, before she could complete the series. In consequence, there are only 4 books, and more questions than answers about our elusive detective. That does not stop him being a rival to practically any romantic leading man you care to name. If these books were better known, I feel sure that they would have sparked fan fiction for exactly that reason. As it is, we have four tales featuring Regency dandy and man of mystery, Julian Kestrel. The reader finds him in gaming hells and country house parties, houses of correction and Italianate mansions, solving mysteries and breaking hearts (as well as nursing his own, of course). He seems to flit between societies and, like Sebastian St Cyr, doesn’t quite belong anywhere.
What Sebastian St Cyr and Julian Kestrel have in common is that they are both able to access high society - an attribute they need to solve the crimes that they are faced with. Now, Mr. Darcy is in a similar position, of course. My personal view of him is that his foray into sleuthing would stop with a one off involvement. I cannot quite find a way of transforming Mr Darcy into a detective on a long term basis in my mind - I don’t think it quite suits him. I have tried to reflect this in Lover’s Knot - although readers shall be the judges of whether I succeed.
I would love to hear who amongst you has read either Sebastian or Julian? Or do you know of other Regency detectives that you recommend?
ABOUT THE BOOK
A great love. A perplexing murder. Netherfield Park — a house of secrets.
Lover’s Knot is a romantic Pride & Prejudice variation, with a bit of mystery thrown in.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenetta James is a mother, writer, lawyer and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing, and playing with Lego. She has written, Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers as well as contributed short stories to both The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues.
Jenetta has selected a lovely giveaway package where one lucky winner will receive a Pride & Prejudice scarf, a Kindle cover and paperback copies of all five of her JAFF books.
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.
Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.
Lover’s Knot Tour Schedule
March 29 My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway
March 30 Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
March 31 Liz's Reading Life / Book Review & Giveaway
April 1 My Vices and Weaknesses/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway
April 2 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
April 3 So Little Time / Guest Post & Giveaway
April 4 Austenesque Reviews / Author Interview & Giveaway
April 5 From Pemberley to Milton / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
April 6 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway
April 7 More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway
April 8 My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post & Giveaway
April 9 Diary of an Eccentric / Guest Post & Giveaway
April 10 Laughing with Lizzie / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
April 11 Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway
April 12 Just Jane 1813/ Author Interview & Giveaway