Hello readers! Welcome to my stop on TBR and Beyond Blog Tours for Sense and Second Degree Murder by Tirzah Price. Thank you to the author, the publisher and TBR & Beyond Tours for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour.
Title: Sense and Second-Degree Murder
Series: Jane Austen Murder Mysteries #2
Author: Tirzah Price
Genre: YA, Retellings
Published: April 5th, 2022 (Harper Collins)
Synopsis: When eighteen-year-old aspiring scientist Elinor Dashwood discovers her beloved father slumped over the desk of his office study, she knows his death means dire straits for the Dashwood women. To make matters worse, an outdated will entails his estate – including Norland & Company, the private investigation firm where her younger sister Marianne worked as her father’s partner and protégé – to their half-brother and his haughty wife, who waste no time in forcing the Dashwoods out of their home and into a cramped apartment on London’s Barton Street.
But before they go, the Dashwood sisters make a startling discovery that points to foul play, and the killer might be family.
Obviously, the girls must investigate. It could be dangerous; it could ruin their reputations; and most importantly, it won’t bring back their father. But if the Dashwood sisters can combine their talents and bring their father’s murderer to justice, it may bring them all some comfort – and it might even lead to love.
Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins, and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When private investigator Mr Dashwood is found dead in his study one morning by his daughter, Elinor, it signals the onset of dire circumstances for the family. The three daughters and their mother are quickly forced out of their house by their half brother and his greedy wife as an outdated will leaves them with nothing to their name. But before they leave, Marianne, who has always aspired to follow in her father’s footsteps, discovers something that could point to foul play involved in Mr Dashwood’s death. The sisters are determined to get to the bottom of things, especially as family members could be involved, but soon find themselves tangled in a web of secrets and lies that somehow seem to be wrapped up with their father’s last case, which might not have been quite resolved as he thought it was.
The second installment in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series brings us a retelling of Sense and Sensibility with a twist. I loved how the author has taken the plot of this classic and molded it to fit the narrative of a mystery while still maintaining so many key aspects from the original. The biggest advantage with this series is that you don’t have to have read the original to be able to follow along, but having read it will certainly allow you to pick up on some subtleties. My major issue with the first book was that it felt very unrealistic for the time period in terms of etiquette and speech, and while it carries over to this book to a certain extent, it wasn’t as jarring now that I knew to expect it. Besides, I do feel like this sequel has improved a lot in terms of maintaining the feel of the time period (if not the complex societal norms) and the elements of a mystery are perfectly woven into this late 18th century tale. As a retelling, it deviates from the story early on, but I liked how the author has worked around the plot in such a way that the narrative does find its way back eventually.
The characters were so well written, and despite the change of genre and setting, they were still recognizably the Dashwood sisters. The youngest sister Margaret had a significant role to play in this version, which was really nice to see (if I recall correctly, she doesn’t get much page time in the original) and she was a delightful character who added a lot to the story. Though we only get Elinor and Marianne’s POVs, the secondary characters were good, if a little narrower in scope, and rather true to their original portrayals.
I am still a little annoyed that this book didn’t stick to the time period in many aspects, but historical novels and authenticity aside, the one thing I didn’t like about this book was the romance arcs for Elinor and Marianne. The pace of the mystery didn’t allow for much development, and there was minimal interaction between the sisters and their interests on page, which meant that it all became came together abruptly in the end and didn’t feel realistic at all. I think this novel was simply too packed and too short for a romance arc to unfold naturally, and I wouldn’t have minded a slightly longer book to make this work.
As for the mystery, if you know the outline of the original, it’s not too hard to guess who might be behind it all. The why and how on the other hand, was what I found most interesting. The motive was quite complicated and not revealed too early on, and the pieces took a while to come together, looping in some rather unexpected characters to boot. Overall, I think the author has done a fantastic job with this book, keeping the spirit of the original while giving it a completely new perspective, and it’s a definite improvement on book one in many ways. Sense and Second-Degree Murder was a fast paced, easy read that I found to be thoroughly enjoyable. I can’t wait to see this author’s reinterpretation of Mansfield Park as a mystery in the sequel, and I’m definitely planning a reread of the book while I wait for the third installment in this series. Highly recommended!
Sense and Second-Degree Murder releases on April 5th, 2022.
About the Author
Tirzah Price grew up on a farm in Michigan, where she read every book she could get her hands on and never outgrew her love for YA fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a former bookseller and librarian. Now, she’s a contributing editor at Book Riot, where she can be found recommending books on the site, newsletters, podcasts, and social media accounts. When she’s not writing, reading, or thinking about YA books, she splits her time between experimenting in the kitchen and knitting enough socks to last the fierce Michigan winters.
Tirzah is pronounced TEER-zuh. Pronouns are she/her.
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