Death Comes To Pemberley by P. James

58%

41 Critic Reviews

The murder story allows only flashes of Austenian wit, and Lizzy is sadly eclipsed by Darcy.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.
 
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.
 
Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.
 
Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, P. D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, electrifying it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story, as only she can write it.
 

About P. James

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P. D. James is the author of twenty previous books, most of which have been filmed for television and broadcast in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Policy departments of Great Britain's Home Office, and has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. The recipient of many honors and prizes, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 and was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame in 2008. She divides her time between London and Oxford.
 
Published December 6, 2011 by Vintage. 305 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, History, Literature & Fiction, Horror, Crime, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Dec 25 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Death Comes To Pemberley
All: 41 | Positive: 20 | Negative: 21

Kirkus

Below average
Jan 01 2012

The murder story allows only flashes of Austenian wit, and Lizzy is sadly eclipsed by Darcy.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Charles McGrath on Dec 26 2011

If the novel has a weakness, oddly, it’s the mystery, which by Ms. James’s standards is pretty tame and uncomplicated.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Liesl Schillinger on Dec 16 2011

The greatest pleasure of this novel is its unforced, effortless, effective voice.

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Wall Street Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by Tom Nolan on Dec 03 2011

Nonetheless, Ms. James has done an impressive job in combining her crime-novelist technique with Jane Austen's sweetly acidic sensibility.

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NPR

Excellent
Nov 29 2011

James is having fun in her own intelligent, literate way, and this novel is an invitation to her readers to join in the revels.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Muriel Dobbin on Dec 16 2011

You get the feeling that this is what Austen might have composed had she written a sequel to her story of Elizabeth and Darcy.

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Anna Porter on Dec 09 2011

P.D. James captures the cadences and storytelling quirks of Austen, paying homage to the original author while adding her own touches as she signals the impending disasters in her mystery.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Kenneth Turan on Jan 15 2012

If you appreciate mysteries as well as the Mighty Jane, this pleasant entertainment will do nicely.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Dirda

It is a solidly entertaining period mystery and a major treat for any fan of Jane Austen.

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All About Romance

Excellent
Reviewed by Sandy Coleman

P.D. James has delivered a worthy homage to one of the greatest novels ever written.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Jane Jakeman on Nov 04 2011

Stylistically, the modern contributor does not overwork the dry, understated manner of her co-author.

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Suite 101

Excellent
Reviewed by Carolyn Psutka on Feb 01 2012

Fans of James will be pleased to learn she has not lost her deft skill even at 91, while Janeites will appreciate James’ evident knowledge of and appreciation for Austen’s original works.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Carol Memmott on Dec 04 2011

Countless authors writing in a plethora of genres have tried to re-create Austen's Pride and Prejudice, but James' new novel is incomparably perfect.

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Huffington Post

Below average
Reviewed by David Finkle on Dec 20 2011

Elizabeth Bennet relegated to being a secondary figure isn't likely to register as excessively pleasing.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Harriet Dwinell

Janeites and mystery fans in general should find this delightful novel quite satisfying.

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Pajiba

Below average
Reviewed by Countfosco

The subsequent investigation is what concerns the rest of the novel and is unfortunately a bit predictable and dull.

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Boston.com

Below average
Reviewed by Chuck Leddy on Dec 29 2011

James’s biggest obstacle, aside from the molasses-paced world of Austen, is an inability to establish an effective narrative focus.

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Independent.ie

Excellent
Reviewed by James Burke on Jan 22 2012

The result is a very enjoyable experience, and it is to be hoped that there will be more murders committed in the vicinity of Pemberley.

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Tulsa World

Below average
Reviewed by James Watts on Feb 05 2012

... the ending still seems rushed, even cliched with the solution laid out in a death-bed confession.

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Open Salon

Below average
Reviewed by Sally Allen on Feb 24 2012

I can't say that I'm propelled through the plot by a desire to see where the story ends.

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New Zealand Listener

Excellent
Reviewed by Craig Ranapia on Dec 24 2011

Darcy and Wickham are both given histories and inner lives... they become more rounded as a result.

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SeniorWomen.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Julia Sneden

Death Comes to Pemberly won’t be universally loved by Jane Austen’s fans, but for those of us willing to bend a little, it provides one heck of an escape...

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TimeFinders Magazine

Below average
Reviewed by Jill Crossland

Even the revelation of who committed the murder was cliché and left the reader feeling that this was all a waste of time.

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The Millstone

Excellent
Reviewed by Edith Cody-Rice on Apr 28 2012

An author with a distinctive voice, she has, in this story, assumed the voice of Jane Austen - with its gentle and elegant irony.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Good
Reviewed by Yvonne Klein on Dec 01 2011

DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY is a solidly-plotted mystery, developed within the constraints of the time in which it is set.

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The Mystery Reader

Good
Reviewed by Lesley Dunlap

Death Comes to Pemberley is more a spin-off than a sequel... Because it doesn't try to continue Austen's story, it's more successful than many other attempts.

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The Lit B***h

Below average
Jan 02 2012

Although there was an investigation and subsequent trial, the actual unraveling of the mystery was a disappointment.

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Austenprose

Below average
Reviewed by Laurel Ann on Jan 04 2012

Combined, the Austen and mystery elements do not play out to their potential.

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Historical Novel Review

Below average
May 01 2012

No informative clues are dribbled into the narrative for the reader to work out, so when the truth comes out it is completely new – well most of it.

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Mystery Maven Blog

Below average
Reviewed by Liz Nichols on May 23 2012

“Death Comes to Pemberley” was worth reading, but it may disappoint Austen fans and also not be quite up to the greatness of some of James’ other mysteries.

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The Mystery Librarian

Below average
Reviewed by Sharon on Jan 13 2012

It’s tough tacking a murder mystery onto an Austen sequel, and in trying to include both elements, she doesn’t quite hit the mark on either.

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Chalk the Sun

Good
Apr 04 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley reads like a tender squeeze of affection from one national literary treasure to another.

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Ripple Effects

Below average
Reviewed by Arti on Feb 22 2012

All in all, I say, don’t resist your curiosity. Despite its flaws, and if you don’t take Austen or James too seriously, this just could make one great escape from all the demands of rationality in your daily routines.

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Strange and Random Happenstance

Below average
Reviewed by Elizabeth on Feb 22 2012

True Janites should avoid this book like the plague.

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So Many Books

Below average
Reviewed by Stefanie Hollmichel on Jan 29 2012

It remained dull and lifeless throughout its entirety.

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Judith Starkston

Good
Jan 19 2012

Watching a master at work is engaging, especially when she tries something audacious and remarkable... It doesn’t have to be completely successful to be worth the attempt.

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BooksPlease

Below average
Feb 27 2012

Six years of marriage had changed Elizabeth beyond recognition, Darcy was a pale, ineffectual figure and Colonel Fitzwilliam was no longer the likeable character he is in Pride and Prejudice.

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Whispering Gums

Below average
Apr 22 2012

The dialogue, overall, lacks Austen’s light touch – and is often stilted without capturing the formality of the period.

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By the Book Reviews

Below average
Reviewed by Hubert O'Hearn on Jan 14 2012

This is an enjoyable enough read for Austen fans... I just wish there had been a little more desperado and a little less devotion.

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Soliloquy in Blue

Below average
Reviewed by Michelle Smith on Feb 24 2012

The result, therefore, is a book that is dreadfully dull.

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A Latter-day Bluestocking

Below average
Jan 18 2012

Bravo for P.D. James for her attempt but in the end it wasn’t the best “sequel” I’ve ever read.

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