The Deception of Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion) Carrie Bebris

The Deception of Lyme Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Mr. Fitzwilliam and Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy are presented with their most intriguing mystery ever in Carrie Bebris’s latest Jane Austen-inspired novel, The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion). This seventh novel in the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series is based on both two of Austen’s most popular characters, the Darcys, and on her last novel, Persuasion. In Persuasion, the seawall in Lyme known as the Cobb (my last name, coincidently) is where Miss Louisa Musgrove falls in a critical turning point of the novel. But, in Bebris’s novel, the Cobb proves to be lethal. It’s where the very pregnant Mrs. Clay suffers a fall at the base of the Cobb, manages to give birth to her baby, but dies from her injuries.

There are mysteries on top of mysteries in this excellent page-turning novel. Who is the father of the infant Mrs. Clay leaves behind? There are two likely choices, but which one would benefit the most at Mrs. Clay’s death? Was her fall an accident, or was she murdered–and, if she was murdered, why? These are just a few of the questions that the Darcys try to discover the answers to in The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion).

They have traveled to Lyme both to rest and vacation, and also to receive the personal effects of Mr. Darcy’s cousin, a naval lieutenant (Gerald Fitzwilliam) who died in action. The Darcys are there with Fitzwilliam’s sister, Georgiana, and their 18-month old daughter, Lily-Anne, who is fascinated with her first encounter of the sea. Fitzwilliam spots a ship at sea which seems to be struggling against the approach of an imminent storm. A lightning bolt crashes down, and sets a mast of the ship ablaze. Hurrying to attempt to rescue any survivors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth come upon the body of a woman they later find out is Mrs. Clay, who has apparently unsuccessfully tried to descend rough-hewn uneven steps called the Granny’s Teeth.

Fitzwilliam sends his sister and Sir Laurence, a potential suitor of Geogiana, off to get a surgeon to come and help administer aid to the woman. They take too long, and the storm begins; Mr. and Mrs. Darcy decide they must try to move the unconscious Mrs. Clay somewhere out of the rain, but fear the distance to the nearest buildings may be too far to get her safely there. Still, they manage to eventually get her to the home of Captain and Mrs. Harville, Complications abound; they happen to be friends with Captain Frederick Wentworth, who’s in love with Anne Elliot, the daughter of vain, foolish baronet Sir Walter Elliot. The baronet, in turn, has been forced to let his ancestral home of Kellynch Hall for a few years due to financial difficulties.

Besides determining who may have murdered Mrs. Clay and why, Mr. Darcy discovers evidence in his cousin’s personal effects that might indicate he was also murdered. He is aided in his efforts to prove his cousin was murdered by another character from Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Captain Frederick Wentworth. This second mystery adds even further twists and turns to the plot. Figuring out the clues before the Darcys do will prove all but impossible, and will delight the readers of this novel.

Elizabeth’s keen observational skills are once again called upon to help her to unravel the mystery. Carrie Bebris has, as always, done her research, and it shows. She deftly handles the dialogue and describes Lyme and the Cobb in a way that would make Jane Austen, herself, proud. She writes excellent mysteries just as I imagine Austen would, if she was alive today. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s, and/or a fan of the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series, The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion) is a Must Read. It can be read as a stand-alone, though I recommend that you read the entire series, as each book is a gem in itself.

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