A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery
Book #5 in the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series
Tor Books, 2010
Hardcover, ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1848-0
Trade paperback, ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-2821-2
Also available in e-reader formats
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"I do believe . . . this is the most troublesome parish that ever was."
—Mrs. Elton, Emma
Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are looking forward to a relaxing stay with dear friends when their carriage is hailed by a damsel-in-distress outside of the village of Highbury. Little do the Darcys realize that gypsies roam these woods, or that both their possessions and the woman are about to vanish into the night.
The Darcys seek out the parish magistrate, who is having a difficult evening of his own. Mr. Knightley and his new wife, the former Miss Emma Woodhouse (the heroine of Jane Austen's Emma) are hosting a party to celebrate the marriage of their friends, Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Jane Fairfax. During dinner, Mr. Edgar Churchill, uncle and adoptive father of the groom, falls suddenly ill and dies. The cause of death: poison.
When the Darcys and the Knightleys join forces to investigate the crimes, they discover that the robbery and Edgar Churchill's death may be connected. Together they must work to quickly locate the source of the poison and the murderer's motive—before the killer can strike again.
Other books in the series:
Pride and Prescience (#1), Suspense and Sensibility (#2), North by Northanger (#3),
The Matters at Mansfield (#4), The Deception at Lyme (#6), The Suspicion at Sanditon (#7).
Praise for The Intrigue at Highbury
"Of the many writers dabbling in the world of Austen's novels, Bebris is one of the best, and readers will be thoroughly hooked by her latest whodunit." —Booklist
Bebris' favorite Regency crime-sleuthing couple are perfect foils for the ingenuous, and occasionally ingenious, matchmaking of Emma Knightley (nee Woodhouse)." —RT Book Reviews (4 stars)
"Beguiling." —Publisher's Weekly
What's in a Name?
More on The Intrigue At Highbury (Or, Emma's Match)
Readers often ask me how I come up with my titles. The answer: I sweat blood.
All right, not literally (that would be creepy), but it certainly feels that way. I usually have a working title in mind, but the final title eludes me until somehow the right words come together and I smack myself on the head (again, not literally—that would hurt) and say, "Of course! Why didn't I think of that sooner?" The working title, incidentally, has often become a book's subtitle.
With this book, however, I did not have even a working title until very late in the writing process. It was simply "Darcy #5 (Emma)" in all my drafts and notes. And when I eventually came up with a title that seemed to capture the story, I was told that it was too long to fit on the book spine above the thumbnail of the cover art. That might sound like a superficial reason to reject a title, but publishers really must consider these things, especially since most books in a store are shelved spine-out. And, truthfully, I am particular enough about the appearance of any book I own (I go to great pains to avoid breaking the spines of paperbacks while reading—do you?) that it would distress me to see this fifth Mr. & Mrs. Darcy novel on my shelf with a spine that did not match the others. (In case you are wondering, the rejected title was "The Mysterious Affair at Highbury." I liked its resonances of Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which also involves the death of a wealthy elderly person through poison, and an outsider who solves the crime. I did not, however, have Christie's book in mind while plotting mine.)
I finished writing the book—still no title. As the deadline for my publisher's catalog loomed and the manuscript headed into production, my editor and I agonized. We needed something that fit in with the previous titles of the series and that clearly linked my book to Austen's Emma, yet without emphasizing Emma's name so much that readers might mistakenly think it was a Mr. & Mrs. Knightley mystery and wonder what happened to the Darcys. Hoping for something alliterative to echo the previous titles, I even went so far as to pore through the entire "H" and "E" sections of the Oxford English Dictionary in search of something that would work nicely with "Highbury" or "Emma." While I learned all sorts of interesting, obscure new words (new to me, anyway) alas, "Hugger-Mugger at Highbury" just did not seem to have the tone we sought!
In the end, we sacrificed alliteration, and found a good synonym for "mysterious affair" with fewer letters. After all the distress and vexation, I am well pleased with The Intrigue at Highbury, and the subtitle, Emma's Match, is perfect on multiple levels: (1) The mystery Emma helps solve presents her with a challenge worthy of her intellect. (2) In Elizabeth Darcy, Emma finally has a friend who is her equal. (3) The object of Emma's latest matchmaking scheme (with Emma in the book, you knew there had to be a matchmaking subplot!) presents such a challenge that she has truly met her match.
In finding a title, I certainly felt as if I had met mine!