NZ author reworks Austen classic as murder mystery

MURDER & MATCHMAKING<br><b>Debbie Cowens</b><br><i>Paper Road Press</i>
MURDER & MATCHMAKING<br><b>Debbie Cowens</b><br><i>Paper Road Press</i>
Take Pride and Prejudice, throw in a famous detective and a sociopathic mother and the result is Murder & Matchmaking, the latest reworking of a classic by New Zealand author Debbie Cowens.

The story starts much the same as the original with one key difference: three of the neighbourhood's most beautiful girls have just been murdered (Charlotte Lucas, Fanny Price and Emma Woodhouse) and we don't have to look far for the culprit.

Stealing the show as always is Mrs Bennet, this time turned murderous in her desperation to marry off her four unattractive daughters.

(Lydia has been recast as a pug and is as silly as ever.)

Her success in removing the competition has the unexpected bonus of attracting two eligible bachelors to the neighbourhood, the charming physician Mr Bingley and the detective Sherlock Darcy, who blends the haughty arrogance of the original Darcy with the irritating analytical outpourings of a modern Sherlock Holmes (think Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary).

And the matchmaking begins.

Elizabeth and Sherlock Darcy are well matched but this is less a romance and more a ''CSI: Hertfordshire'' as they follow the evidence trail to its inevitable conclusion.

Debbie Cowens has captured the feel and language of Jane Austen's original work beautifully.

Pride and Prejudice fans should find this fun.

 Laura Hewson is an ODT subeditor.

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