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Death of a Schoolgirl
The Jane Eyre Chronicles #1
Joanna Campbell Slan

Berkley Trade
August 2012 / ISBN 978-0425247747
Historical Mystery

Reviewed by Cheryl Green

Having read and enjoyed each and every Kiki Lowenstein mystery that Joanna Campbell Slan has written I figured I was up to the challenge of reading her new mystery series with Jane Eyre. Death of a Schoolgirl picks up the story seamlessly with Jane married to Edward Rochester and mother to her newborn son Ned.

Two letters will change Jane’s quiet life. The first note was from Adele Varens – her former pupil and Edward’s ward. She begs for help having received a threatening note at her boarding school. The second is from Lucy Brayton the wife of Edward’s best friend. Her note details her concerns about Adele’s health - who she says is pale and very thin. The school superintendent, Maude Thurston, is new and would not let Lucy see Adele when she came to visit. Jane decides to visit Adele immediately, leaving her husband and son in the care of Mrs. Fairfax the housekeeper. Travel now for Edward might cause him to go blind.

Jane thinks of visiting Hatchard’s Book Shop to replace books that were lost in the fire at Thornfield Hall. The trip to London turns into the trip from hell. The other passengers are rude and at one stop Jane is mugged and the Rochester diamonds in her reticule are stolen. She arrives at Lucy’s house looking a lot worse for wear. The next morning, Jane goes to see Adele at Alderton House. A traffic jam of carriages and bad weather cause Jane to arrive looking like a drowned rat. She sees men carrying out a dead body. Her serviceable clothes and use of the servant’s entrance cause the staff to think she is the long awaited German teacher.

Things to ponder: Why was Jane the only one attacked on the journey to London? What happened to the real German teacher? What made the Bow Street Runners investigate the death of a classmate of Adele as a murder? Will Jane and Miss Miller expose a killer?

Joanna Campbell Slan’s book Death of a Schoolgirl does not disappoint. It gives you a sense of the period and weaves in a mystery to boot. At several parts in the book, my heart was pounding as I tried to read even faster. As someone who has always been afraid to test the waters and read Jane Eyre, Ms. Slan has given me the courage to do so. I will tell you that I now have a copy of Jane Eyre on my Kindle and plan to read it very soon. I hope that there will be another Jane Eyre Chronicle to read very soon. So, If you like your mysteries with a literary touch, then this is the book for you.

Reviewer's Note: Author of the Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft mysteries
Reviewed 2012