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Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James
Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage to the author of Pride and Prejudice from MWA Grand Master James, best known for her Adam Dalgliesh detective series (The Private Patient, etc.). In the autumn of 1803, six years after the events that closed Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Darcy, the happily married mistress of Pemberley House, is preparing for Lady Anne's annual ball, "regarded by the county as the most important social event of the year." Alas, the evening before the ball, Elizabeth's sister Lydia, who married the feckless Wickham, bursts into the house to announce that Captain Denny, a militia officer, has shot her husband dead in the woodland on the estate. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who purists may note behaves inconsistently with Austen's original, head out in a chaise to investigate. Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets, not least of them in the august Darcy family. In contrast to Pride and Prejudice, where emotion is typically conveyed through indirect speech, characters are much more open about their feelings, giving a contemporary ring to James's pleasing and agreeable sequel.
Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell
The sixth installment of Cornwell’s Saxon series (after The Burning Land) returns to the days before there was an England—or an English sense of fair play—when Saxons, Danes, and Vikings, Christians and pagans alike, fought relentlessly and ruthlessly for control of Wessex. It’s 898: ailing King Alfred, hoping to unify English-speaking Christians under one crown, asks loyal if stubbornly pagan Uhtred to make one last stab at peace. Armed with his trusty sword, Serpent-Breath, Uhtred bushwhacks, bedevils, and beats the living daylights out of scheming plotters, while Edward, “not quite the perfect heir,” risks all for the love of a bishop’s daughter. Æthelflaed, Edward’s beloved sister and Uhtred’s former lover, unwilling to be ruled by her husband, brother, or anyone, joins Uhtred in battle brought to bloody life by Cornwell, whose historian’s understanding of military strategy blends well with a novelist’s ability to envision weapons of the past and the ways in which they’re wielded. Ninth-century combat lacks the grandeur of large armies, but Uhtred’s cunning, courage, and a few acts of calculated cruelty make for a compelling read. Unfortunately for Edward, no skirmish proves decisive enough to unify England. Fortunately for Cornwell fans, that means more “tales of warriors and swords and shields and axes” to come.
Don't Look Behind You by Lois Duncan
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-- Undoubtedly a master of suspense, Duncan has written a spellbinding tale of uniquely contemporary horror. Seventeen-year-old April Corrigan's life ends abruptly when she learns that her airline executive father has been working secretly undercover for the FBI. Now his testimony against a notorious drug dealer has placed the whole family in danger, and April and her family are quickly relocated under the Federal Witness Security Program. What begins as a temporary measure soon must become a way of life. April, an ace tennis player, has to stop playing tennis; her mother must give up a lucrative career as a children's author; their names are changed; and April's naive attempt to communicate with her boyfriend causes the violent death of an agent. The entire book is fast-paced and enthralling, but the conclusion will have readers on the edge of their chairs. April and her grandmother get involved a high-speed cross-country chase which culminates in the death of a hit man. Although some readers will not be able to imagine having to sever completely all ties with their past, they won't be able to put this book down. Don't Look Behind You is filled with booktalk potential.