This week I'm taking my opening from Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron. This is book 12 in the Jane Austen Mysteries.
Encounter in a Storm
Saturday, 24th December 1814 Steventon Parsonage, Hampshire
"Jane," said my mother over the lolling head of the parson slumbering beside her, "be so good as to shift your bandbox and secure my reticule. I cannot manage the hamper with one hand, to be sure."
"No, indeed." I pressed my bandbox - already crushed from the confines of the stage, which was crowded beyond bearing - into my friend Martha's lap, and seized my mother's purse. She had netted it from silk, an effort demanding considerable invention and time; none of us should hear the end of it if Mrs. Austen's work were ruined, well before it could be universally admired.
Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.
Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?