Suspense and Sensibility is the second in Carrie Bebris’ series of mysteries with Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, the hero and heroine of Pride and Prejudice, as detectives. In each book, they interact with characters from one of Jane Austen’s other novels. At the beginning of Suspense and Sensibility, the Darcys sponsor Elizabeth’s sister Kitty in a London season, hoping to find a suitable husband for her. They are happy when Kitty falls in love with Harry Dashwood, who is the son of Elinor’s and Marianne’s half-brother John and his nasty wife Fanny from Sense and Sensibility. Bebris has imagined Pride and Prejudice as taking place in the 1810s and Sense and Sensibility in the 1790s, so Harry, who was a child in Sense and Sensibility, is now an adult. But, as soon as Kitty becomes engaged to Harry, his behavior changes dramatically. He becomes obsessed with an antique mirror and a portrait of a roguish ancestor of his, Sir Francis Dashwood, who founded a secret society whose members lived a dissolute lifestyle. Harry begins taking on his ancestor’s dissipated habits, and he insults Kitty and her family, which leads to her breaking the engagement. Then he begins aging very rapidly. Elizabeth thinks there’s a connection between the mirror, the portrait, and what’s happening to Harry. She consults an archaeologist at the British Museum, who has helped her on a previous case, to help her save Harry’s life.
These mysteries are delightful reads for any Jane Austen fan. It is fun to see Elizabeth and Darcy interacting with characters from Austen’s other novels. Some of Bebris’ books, including this one, contain supernatural elements, which some Austen fans and mystery fans might not like. But I didn’t mind them so much, and the later books, for the most part, abandon the supernatural elements.
Suspense and Sensibility can be borrowed on interlibrary loan via WorldCat.