3.5 star, YA

ARC Review: Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Series: Jane Austen Murder Mystery #1

Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit. 

When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates.

Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.

**Pride and Premeditation comes out April 6, 2021**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Pride and Premeditation was a fun and unique twist of a Jane Austen inspired story. I will first have to admit that I like Jane Austen’s works, but that I am by no means a super fan so I cannot speak for those of you who identify as such. What I will speak on is my appreciation of familiar characters in new roles while maintaining the essence of their personalities from the original.

Set in the Regency era (I really love this period, honestly), our Lizzie Bennett works at her father’s law firm which unfortunately is named Longbourn & Sons. Her hopes are set to be a barrister one day, something that is an uphill battle in this day and age for a woman, but Lizzie has the fight and stubbornness in her that many fans have grown to love. Worse yet, her father does not approve of letting her work on cases, though the lazy Mr. Collins takes all the credit for the work she ends up doing for him.

I found it delightful that the characters you thought and knew are present here, but may not be in the same form you previously remember them in. Mr. Collins and Charlotte both work at Longbourn & Sons, with the former driving Lizzie quite insane with his laziness and superiority complex for just existing really and the latter as Lizzie’s best friend.

Of course, we cannot simply forget the Darcys and Bingleys. Mr. Darcy, like Lizzie, is the same in manner and stubbornness (we can’t forget that this was part of his charm, now can we?). Upon landing a new “case” that Lizzie hopes to solve to impress her father into letting her work towards becoming a barrister, she tries to take on Mr. Bingley’s murder case. That’s right, murder, committed against Mr. Bingley’s brother-in-law. There she comes head to head with Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley’s friend and solicitor of sorts at a rival law firm, who claimed he could handle Mr. Bingley’s case on his own. Not to be outdone by the larger, male-oriented Pemberley & Associates firm, Lizzie goes digging for clues. She believes Mr. Bingley was set up, and befriends Mr. Wickham along the way for help. What a set up for some dramatic tension!

Now, I am a Jane Austen fan of sorts and just seeing these familiar names crop up in different scenarios already has me excited to see where it’s going. Plus, a murder mystery is at hand for Lizzie to solve and prove she is just as capable – if not more capable – than any man at her father’s firm. She’s just as strong headed and tenacious for what she believes in, even if it means pushing aside annoying people like Mr. Darcy and the other Bingleys to pursue justice. I love this version of Lizzie almost more in some way than her original inspiration. But honestly, using similar characterizations and names is where the similarities to Pride and Prejudice ends. If fans really had wanted a true retelling of that story, this is not what you came to look for. I mean, it’s a murder mystery at its heart which definitely deviates from the original.

If these above things are satisfactory enough for diehard Jane Austen fans, then you will enjoy this well enough for the ode to a popular classic that it is. If you came into this loving murder mysteries and Jane Austen, then you are in for a treat because the twists were clever and the hidden agendas remained elusive for much of the plot. It was mystery perfectly set in this time period in the way evidence must be obtained to prove innocence, or why Mr. Bingley was even charged in the first place. It would make no sense in our modern society, but it really pulled you into this era more because of it.

However, pure murder mystery fans, I will note that those familiar with fast sequences, crazy elaborate schemes and writing that has you on your toes at night may not find this one as stimulating. The pacing was quite slow at times, especially the initial gathering of clues. It was realistic because you can imagine how hard it would be for a single woman to go off hunting down clues in this age, let alone with almost no help whatsoever in this man’s world. But it’s no speedy, heart racing kind of mystery for that reason, and I was a little bummed about that.

The mystery is the very heart of this story. There is not much room for other things, like explicit focus on any burgeoning romance between Darcy and Lizzie. I understand this is a series so there will be more cases for these two, but if you had hoped for the full essence of their budding love in this book alone, you may not feel fully satiated. I struggled with it a little at first, but I have come to see that it works well to take it slow as they come to not only like each other, but respect each other’s capabilities. Particularly, I really enjoyed Lizzie’s growth and confidence in what she believes in, most of all in her own abilities to do good work.

I would’ve also liked to feel more settled in this period. While everything Lizzie does, or is prohibited from doing, is a direct result of the time period she is living in, we don’t get to feel the settings as much. She could’ve lived in any pre-feminist society where men decide almost everything and this story would’ve still been at home with it. I love the Regency era and this was just a little thing to me that would’ve added an extra layer of specialty to the story.

I will conclude that the story may not please every single Jane Austen fan out there. I’m sure it’s a hard thing to live up to. But for those fans who are willing to give a story inspired by the characters of Pride and Prejudice, I will say this mystery satisfies in the right places. And you may find yourself falling for Lizzie, Darcy and the rest of them in all sorts of different ways.

Overall Recommendation:

Pride and Premeditation is not a retelling of the original classic, but an ode to the story that inspired the characters found here. The only similarities lie in the characterizations and names, but everything else is a unique take of a murder mystery set in Regency era. Lizzie Bennett is as feisty and stubborn as you may remember, trying to prove to herself, her father and everyone else that a woman can work in a law firm as more than a secretary. While the mystery was a little slow at times and the romance you may have wanted taking its sweet slow-burn time, all these things aside I would think this story, the first in its series, brings its own creative flair to a beloved story that hopefully should satisfy Jane Austen fans of different sorts.

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