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Jane and the Wandering Eye: Being the Third Jane Austen Mystery

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Jane Austen’s potential as a brilliant sleuth was delightfully revealed in Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor and deliciously underscored in Jane and the Man of the Cloth.  Now, in Stephanie Barron’s third superb Jane Austen Mystery, the beloved author embarks on her most perplexing case…as misplaced passions, festering malice, and the desire for revenge serve to conceal the true motives for murder.As Christmas of l804 approaches, Jane Austen finds herself “insupportably bored with Bath, and the littlenesses of a town,” despite the seasonal gaiety, the elegant Assemblies, and the appearance of a celebrated pair of actors at the Theatre Royal.  It is with something like relief, then, that she accepts a peculiar commission from her Gentleman Rogue, Lord Harold Trowbridge–to shadow his niece, Lady Desdemona, who has fled to Bath to avoid the attentions of the arrogant and unsavoury Earl of Swithin.But at a masquerade thronged with the fashionable and the notorious, Jane’s idle diversion suddenly turns deadly.  Even as actor Hugh Conyngham transfixes the guests with his declamation of Macbeth’s murderous soliloquy, his theatre manager is discovered stabbed to death in an anteroom.  Weeping on his breast is Hugh’s sister, the spirited tragedienne Maria Conyngham.And standing by the body, knife in hand, is Desdemona’s brother, Simon, Lord Kinsfell.  In vain does Simon protest his innocence: he is arrested and charged with murder.Jane, however, knows that there is more to this fatal drama than meets the eye.  And what is one to surmise from the stormy portrait of an eye left lying on the corpse?  As Yuletide revels progress, Jane’s delicate inquiries expose a bewildering array of suspects amid an endlessly shifting pattern of flirtations, amours, and sinister entanglements.  And as Jane’s fascination with mystery and her fondness for the dramatic arts lead her deeper into the investigation, it becomes clear that she will not uncover the truth without some play-acting of her own.Yet Jane’s bravura performance could do more than unmask a killer…it could lead to the ruin of her reputation, or even the loss of her life.Fiendishly clever and breathlessly diverting, Jane and the Wandering Eye weaves manners, mayhem, and murder into a dazzling spectacle of intrigue and suspense.

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