[I’ve got a special treat for all you Jane Austen fans out there. My guest blogger today writes mysteries featuring an English lit professor and highlights a different figure from literature in each installment–her latest novel is titled A Jane Austen Encounter. Please welcome literary suspense author Donna Fletcher Crow. Take it away, Donna!]
All of the stories in my Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series have grown out my own experiences. And I guess that makes sense, since, like Elizabeth, I was an English literature teacher— although certainly never department head as she was. And since the concept of the series is to feature a different figure from literature in each book they are, naturally, my favorite authors. Of course, as many favorites as I have this could turn out to be quite a lengthy series.
The first book The Shadow of Reality, which features the work of my favorite mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers, was based on a mystery weekend my husband and I attended at Mohonk Mountain House, high in the Adirondacks.
I moved the mystery week Elizabeth drags Richard to closer to home in the Rocky Mountains and Elizabeth was thrilled. The setting was all her fantasies come true: an elegant English manor house in the 1930’s. And he was even more thrilled by the lead actor in the dramatized murder: Sir Gavin Kendall— sophisticated, brilliant, rich and captivated by her. Until murder intervened.
A Midsummer Eve’s Nightmare is set in Ashland, Oregon, at their annual Shakespeare Festival which our family attended regularly for many years— until Boise developed a really fine festival of our own.
It was the perfect place to send two literature professors off on their honeymoon. And Elizabeth and Richard thought so, too. Bliss. Until they find that Desdemona’s brilliantly acted death scene wasn’t acted and Elizabeth’s costume designer sister and her actress roommate are terrified that they are slated to be the next victims.
Then my life and career got full of other projects— as did Elizabeth and Richard’s. Apparently they were too busy to solve crimes alongside their teaching. Or perhaps they simply didn’t find themselves tripping over any dead bodies— because suddenly here they are, celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary with a trip to England in A Jane Austen Encounter.
Devout Janeites, like their creator, it’s Elizabeth and Richard’s dream vacation—visiting all Jane Austen’s homes. But not even the overpowering personality of their Oxford guide nor the careful attentions of their new friends can keep the tour free from lurking alarms. When a box of old documents is donated to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, Richard volunteers to help sort through it. Later that night, however, he finds the Centre’s director bleeding on her office floor. Could the valuable letter that has gone missing really lead them to new revelations about Jane Austen’s unfinished manuscript The Watsons?
My goal as a writer is always to give my readers a “you are there” experience. So readers are invited to come along as my literary sleuths visit all the sites so redolent of Jane Austen and her characters: the beautiful city of Bath, the charming Chawton cottage where Jane’s writing flowered, and the nearby Steventon church where her father was rector and her own faith developed. Stand by her grave in Winchester Cathedral and enjoy your time at the lovely country estate of Godmersham. But don’t let your guard down. Evil lurks even in the genteel world of Jane Austen.
“Playful mystery featuring an engaging pair of amateur sleuths.”
~ Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 43 books, mostly novels of British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the literary suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 13 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.
To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to her website.
You can also follow her on Facebook.