Mysteries Every Thinking Woman Should Read

The age of the hardboiled sleuth and his bimbo sidekick is over! With a little help from Partners & Crime, we've found nine brilliant, believable female detectives.

Jane and the Canterbury Tale: Being A Jane Austen Mystery (The Jane Austen Mysteries)

320 pages; Bantam
If you have a Jane Austen–would–have–been–my–best–friend complex, look no further. The indefatigable Stephanie Baron, author of these 11 novels, has painstakingly sifted through the famed author's letters and writings, as well as extensive biographical information, to create a finely detailed portrait of Austen's life—with a dash of fictional murder. If the real Jane did something—such as visited a certain town or went to a specific ball—the mystery-series Jane does the same in the book. It's just that when she does, she's usually looking for clues as to why someone has ended up dead.

What results is some of the most enjoyable, well-written fanfic ever created. In the most recent, Jane—already a published author—is paying a visit to her brother Edward Austen Knight when a man is found dead on his estate. Jane's considerable social understanding is exercised in full while sorting out all the complex relationships between the suspects and the grieving. The pitch-perfect historical details, the believably Austenian prose and the opportunity to pretend that this story actually was the life of this delightful author couldn't be more addictive. One caveat: Enjoy this series at home. Strangers might not understand the common phenomenon associated with the books—one that inspires the reader to talk to Jane ("Jane, that's exactly what I would have done," or "Jane, how did you figure that one out?!") while poring over each page.—Nathalie Gorman

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