Being the 11th Jane Austen Mystery.  Stephanie Barron is truly gifted.  She adroitly weaves Jane Austen's letters and papers into a compelling account of "what if?" and "what might have happened?"  After 11 mysteries, I am still in awe of Ms. Barron's ability to keep me interested.   And I am one who never before finding the Jane Austen Mystery Series, would have ever picked up a Jane Austen novel!  I have become a neophyte of the Regency period.

Jane and the Canterbury Tale is number 11 in the series.  It is towards the end of October, 1813.  Jane is staying at Godersham, her brother Edward's home in Kent.  5 years have passed since he lost the love of his life, Elizabeth, to death in childbirth.  His eldest daughter, Fanny, has been the mistress of the house, trying to grow up herself as she attends to the needs of the household and her younger siblings. 

Nearby at Chilham Castle, home to the Wildman family, the Godersham entourage spend some time on social calls.  The marriage of Adelaide Thorn Fiske to Captain Andrew MacCallister is occasion for the families and others to come together for a grand ball.  Adelaide is cousin to the Wildman's.  Along with her brother Julian and their mother Augusta Thane, Adelaide has been staying at Chilham Castle for some time before the wedding.  It is the ball celebrating Adelaide's marriage to Captain MacCallister where events leading to murder begin to unfold.

The Pilgrim's Way, the road leading to Canterbury, is the dividing line between Godersham and Chilham.  Pilgrims on a journey to Canterbury to see the final resting place of Saint Sir Thomas a Becket, frequently travel this lane.  Typically, they may be travel weary and look the part.  In addition to this main path, there is a side path that joins the main.  This side path leads to a small family church (where Elizabeth is buried).  On this path is where the murder victim is discovered.  Initially, he is believed to be merely a tradesman, just another pilgrim cut down on his way.  As he is discovered by a shooting party, it is feared one of their shots may be the means of the man's death.  Very soon, however, he is identified as the assumed-to-be-dead husband of Adelaide MacCallister.  Thus begins the real untangling of the great web woven several years prior.  No fear, Jane is at the ready, prepared to assist her brother Edward, now acting in his duty as magistrate. 

With the reading of this novel, I am now caught up in the series.  Starting back in January of this year (2011) with the very first, Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor (I love the use of "unpleasantness" in that title-how very proper.  Of course murder would be most unpleasant for the victim!), I have observed the changes in Jane as she lived and learned life's tough lessons.  She has seen loved ones depart this world, her economic circumstances fluctuate, made new friends and acquaintances and developed her sleuthing skills (as well as writing a novel or two).  All of these experiences have profoundly effected her views and attitudes on life.  Those views and attitudes are reflected in her very real letters.  The questions about Jane's life arising from those letters are given answers by Stephanie Barron through this series.

I hope it is not a long wait for the next installment.