“What Strange Creatures” from Rational Creatures by Jenetta James
So here at MysteriousEats.wordpress.com I wouldn’t call us lazy, but if my older sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife.wordpress.com has already reviewed or posted something, we just copy and paste it minus the Austen-y things as we concentrate more on the mystery.
So my sister blog reviewed a book Rational Creatures, short stories on different Jane Austen female characters from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Now most of these stories are not mysteries or have mysterious elements, so I just passed them by.
But the one that did interest me, was the Northanger Abbey short story by Sophia Rose and the Jenetta James’ one as both are mysteries!
Quick background on the story from JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
“The life of the Bertrams and their niece, Fanny Price, are interrupted when a Mr. Henry Crawford and Miss Mary Crawford come to visit their half-sister Mrs. Grant. Mary is set on winning the eldest Bertram, but finds her being struck by the younger. Henry’s sole purpose is to upset the apple cart by going after the Bertram sisters for fun, but having no intent of follow through. Will the Bertrams survive this?”
Mary is living with her uncle, the Admiral. He is a cruel, horrid man and it has become more unbearable living with him since her aunt passed away. Anyways, it seems to be an ordinary day, until a magistrate from Bow Street, Mr. James Hunter, comes calling about her missing friend, Miss Verity Stanhope.
Mary just laughs it off thinking that she probably ran off with some guy-either they eloped and will be back, or took off and now have to elope. But Mr. Hunter assures her that this isn’t a “normal” disappearance. She is the third in a serial kidnapping.
Where will this story take us? Is she going to become a super sleuth? Will she solve the mystery? Could it be someone she knows? Henry? Her uncle, the admiral? A new character? I’m invested.
He questions her, but there is no new information regarding her missing friend. Although Henry did leave early from the ball Verity disappeared from. And Verity always liked him. Hmmm….
No, he has an alibi. It is clearly not him.
Mary keeps trying to shrug it off as an elopement as Verity was having a fortune coming her way, but Mr Hunter is not convinced. The two share a brief flirtation, and he is gone. A brief flirtation is all it could be as Mr. Hunter isn’t the type of man Mary is after.
The next morning Mary is at home with the Admiral, ugh. Things are even harder with him now that Henry is away. She tells him about an invite they received, but he declines as he will be out. He always does that sort of thing, could he be up to something nefarious? Such as…kidnapping?
The admiral doesn’t care about her or what she does, she can go to the party by herself. And he doesn’t care about this Verity business, as he sees her as just a dumb female.
Mary tries to stay on the idea that it is just an elopement, her friend is fine, but Mr. Hunter’s words keep coming back. She goes shopping and is enjoying herself, but then thinks how can she be happy and go out when something horrible could be happening to her friend?
She continues on her way and then she notices a carriage, it seems that wherever she goes the carriage follows. She goes, it goes. She stops, it stops.
She starts to become alarmed and wants to go into a shop when someone comes out…Mr. Hunter?
He followed her?! Is he the kidnapper?
Yes, he followed her, but just because he was worried maybe she could be next. He wasn’t going to say anything, but she was about to go into the shop of Madam Villechamp, a place where all the women who disappeared went into before they vanished.
Mary never would have gone in there, (except she was being followed), as her aunt always forbid her. Her aunt didn’t like the shop. But Mary must know what is going on and so she makes an appointment. She goes to check it out and when the assistant is out of the room she starts investigating.
She goes through the correspondence and there she finds a letter from her uncle! Her uncle’s mistress is Madame Villechamp! And he wants her to move in with him.
She runs to Bow Street and talks to Mr. Hunter, and finds out that Verity was found, it was an elopement. Mary talks with him and leaves to start a new life, going to visit Mrs. Grant and entering the Bertram’s lives.
Thoughts After Reading:
I think it was a good short story, but what about the missing women?
Their disappearances? Serial kidnapper? What happened?
For more from Rational Creatures, go to The Strength of Their Attachment
For more Jane Austen-themed mysteries, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)
For more from JaneAustenRunsMyLife, go to The Inn at Half Moon Bay
For more kidnapping, go to Kidnapped!