Jane e i fantasmi di Netley: Un'indagine per la detective Jane Austen

Netley, costa di Southampton, autunno 1808. Jane sta ammirando le rovine abbandonate dell'abbazia di Netley, quando viene raggiunta da un personaggio misterioso, avvolto in un grande mantello, che le consegna una missiva e si dilegua. Si tratta di un messaggio di Lord Harol Trowbridge, funzionario di Sua Maestŕ e amico di vecchia data di Jane, che le assegna una pericolosa missione: dovrŕ contattare e ottenere le confidenze della bella vedova Sophia Challoner, donna eccentrica e intrigante, che si sospetta essere una spia al soldo dei francesi e che al momento si trova ospite proprio nella pensione di Netley. Ma di lě a poco la situazione precipita: una fregata della Marina viene data alle fiamme nelle acque di Southampton e il maestro d'ascia č trovato morto, assassinato. Č solo l'inizio di una guerra clandestina, scandita da morte e terrore, per fermare la quale Jane dovrŕ mettere in gioco tutto, persino la sua stessa vita e quella dei suoi cari, in nome della salvezza del suo Paese.
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In three highly diverting mysteries, Jane Austen has shown herself a clever hand at unraveling the deadly knots woven by the unscrupulous.  Now, in her latest engrossing adventure, Jane is called upon to solve a shattering crime that may begin and end in one man's heart--or encompass the fate of an entire nation.

In the waning days of summer, Jane Austen is off to the Canterbury Races, where the rich and fashionable go to gamble away their fortunes.  It is an atmosphere ripe for scandal.  But even Jane is unprepared for the shocking drama that ensues when a raven-haired wanton in a scarlet riding habit takes center stage.  She is Françoise Grey, a flamboyant French beauty who has cast a spell over the gentlemen of Kent...and her unbridled behavior at the races invites the most scandalous speculation.

What can Mrs. Grey be thinking, Jane wonders, to so brazenly strike a gentleman with her whip? And what recklessness then spurs her to leap the rail on her fleet black horse and join the race? Only hours after Mrs. Grey has departed the race grounds in triumph will Jane realize the full import of her questions.  For in a shabby chaise less than a hundred feet from where Jane sat, the impossible is revealed: Mrs. Grey's lifeless body, gruesomely strangled, her ruby riding habit nowhere to be found.

As those around her rush to arrest the owner of the chaise--a known scoundrel with eyes for Françoise--Jane looks further afield to find a number of others behaving oddly, including the dashing military man caught rifling through the dead woman's desk, the widower who does not appear to be grieving, and the shy governess curiously overpowered by the horror of the Frenchwoman's death.

As rumors spread like wildfire that Napoleon's fleet is bound for Kent, Jane begins to suspect that Françoise Grey's murder was an act of war rather than a crime of passion.  The peaceful fields of Kent have become a very dangerous place...and Jane's thirst for justice may exact the steepest price of all--her life.

Deliciously sinister and splendidly wrought, Jane and the Genius of the Place is a stylish puzzler that only the incomparable Jane Austen could hope to crack.  And in her capable hands, the solving of it is a pleasure to watch.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Published on
Oct 19, 2011
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Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical
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