I decided to read all the Pride and Prejudice mystery books, over Thanksgiving. It looks like three authors have tried their hands at writing P&P mysteries. One is The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery by Regina Jeffers. Jeffers has written a series of P&P mysteries, but my library only has this one.
The book begins with everyone getting ready for the marriage of Kitty, the youngest Bennet girl. There's a funny scene where the husbands all argue over who has to put up with the mother-in-law. But then there are some wedding crashers! The evil Lt. Wickham shows up with his wife Lydia, and they make a scene. Darcy punches Wickham's face in. Wickham goes back to his hotel room with Lydia and attempts to beat her, when Mr. and Mrs. Bennet interrupt. Mrs. Bennet is forced to come to terms with the fact that she forced Lydia into marrying a horrible man.
Wickham runs away, and he attempts to assassinate Darcy. He hides in the road with a shotgun, waiting for Darcy to come into view. He accidentally shoots one of Darcy's friends. Wickham runs away again, and he impersonates one of Darcy's relatives at their estate in Scotland. He steals a bunch of things. He makes an attempt at solving the mystery, but he fails, and he decides to flee the country.
The mystery is that Georgiana Darcy has married Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is now a Major General. He is coming back from a war, and they're going to meet up at the Scottish Estate. But uh oh! The army mistakenly sent Georgiana a letter, saying he died in battle! In a fit of drama, she runs off into the moors. She falls off her horse, hurts her foot and...
Wouldn't you know it? There's an evil group of kidnappers in the area! They steal people from the moor and lock them in dungeons. If they don't get a good enough ransom for the victims, they murder them and sell their bodies as meat. The leader of the group, Dolina MacBethan, decides not to ransom the young girl. She's so beautiful and nice! No, Dolina decides she's going to force the young girl to marry her son, instead.
The young girl has amnesia, and she can't remember her previous life. But then the oldest son shows up. He had no idea about this kidnapping business, and he wants to stop it, but can he really sentence his mother to life in prison? In other words, he is a hot Scottish man, with a tragic backstory, who needs true love to set him on the right path. He falls in love with the young woman.
Darcy and Major General Fitzwilliam search for the missing Georgiana. Her horse is found at the MacBethans', so they poke around there. They storm the place with a group of men, free all the captives, and then we get the big twist: the young woman isn't Georgiana! She just looks like Georgiana, and she has Georgiana's horse and locket. When her amnesia is cured, it turns out she also has a tragic backstory, so she and Domhnall are allowed to get married and start a new life elsewhere. I'd normally complain that the majority of the book is an unrelated mystery, but the romance aspect was interesting, at least, and the big "storm the castle" scenes were exciting. I summarized their evil schemes in a paragraph, but the book slowly unfolds their evil schemes, and really, that's more of the focus of the mystery, rather than "who is the young woman?".
But what about Georgiana? Elizabeth has a dream that Georgiana is in a cottage in the woods. I'm not joking. That's how the book solves the mystery. The main character dreams of a place she's never heard of before, and that's where the missing person is. Elizabeth figures out where the cottage is, and she rushes to save Georgiana. By total coincidence, Wickham shows up at the cottage at the same time. There is a big showdown. Wickham is captured, but he gets a free pass on attempted murder, since they don't want to scandalize the family. He is given money and exiled to America.
It turns out that Georgiana sprained her ankle. She was in the cottage, recovering. The young woman helped her for a bit, but when she rode into town, she fell off the horse and got amnesia. That's why she had Georgiana's horse and locket.
I did not enjoy this book much. I was unnecessarily confused by the naming conventions. Every woman is referred to by her own name and her husband's name. Hot Scottish Guy is Domhnall MacBethan, but he also goes by Lord Wotherspoon, and I didn't figure out they were the same character until 200 pages in. His mother doubles as Lady Wotherspoon. And the young girl is referred to in four different ways, to hide the fact that she's not Georgiana. In retrospect, it's a big giveaway that the author went out of her way to avoid calling that character by name for two hundred pages. I didn't really catch on to it, because the author is fond of the pronoun game in general. One section talks about "he" and "him" for three paragraphs, before saying that the man in question is Wickham. So, all in all, there was unnecessary confusion with names.
Each chapter is split up into 10-20 sections, each one being 1-4 pages long. Often, the book would cut away from a scene, only to cut right back to it, later. I found that a tad irksome. I also found it irksome when the book quoted "Pride and Prejudice" wholesale; I'm glad other reviewers mentioned that, so I know it's not just me. The book is not G-rated, like Pride and Prejudice is. It goes into detail about the murdering, kidnapping cannibals, who are also incestuous. It also goes into detail about Wickham and Lydia's marital relations. Yuck.