Death of a Schoolgirl: The Jane Eyre Chronicles

BOOK: Death of a Schoolgirl: The Jane Eyre Chronicles
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Praise for
Death of a Schoolgirl

“A delightful chance for Brontë fans to expand their acquaintance with Jane Eyre, who continues her modest but strong-willed ways in an ingeniously contrived return to teaching…and sleuthing.”

—Charlaine Harris,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Everyone’s favorite character, Jane Eyre, returns in a marvelous new adventure. Joanna Campbell Slan’s
Death of a Schoolgirl
is a must for all her many fans, as Jane Eyre searches for an elusive killer who has Rochester’s young ward in his or her sights.”

—Charles Todd,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Confession
and
An Unmarked Grave

“Charming, winning, mannered, and so genuine it seems like a long-lost Brontë original…The Jane Eyre we know and love is revealed as a nifty detective, just as resolute, clever, and independent as her fans always knew she was.”

—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity–award winning author


Jane Eyre
was always one of my favorite books, and I’m delighted to be able to peek at her life as Mrs. Rochester. I always knew she’d make an excellent sleuth.”

—Rhys Bowen, Agatha and Anthony–award winning author of the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mysteries

“Jane Eyre is the perfect detective—smart, courageous, and clever!”

—Victoria Thompson, author of
Murder on Fifth Avenue

“A terrific beginning to a new series. In
Death of a Schoolgirl
, author Joanna Campbell Slan has given us a fully fleshed sequel to
Jane Eyre
, as darkly gothic as the original, only this time Jane uses her insatiable curiosity to solve a murder. An intriguing new sleuth!”

—Jeri Westerson, author of the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series

“This tasty blend of well-drawn characters and unexpected plot twists has all the rich flavor of England in the early 1820s. One nibble and you won’t be able to stop until the very last morsel is nothing but a memory. Thank goodness there are more Jane Eyre Chronicles to come!”

—Kate Emerson, author of
The King’s Damsel


Death of a Schoolgirl
is a wonderful book. It’s the best sort of historical mystery—richly detailed, cleverly plotted, and filled with characters you’ll not want to leave behind.”

—Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar–award winning author of
In the Shadow of Gotham

Death of
a Schoolgirl
The Jane Eyre Chronicles

Joanna Campbell Slan

BERKLEY BOOKS, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Copyright © 2012 by Joanna Campbell Slan.
The Edgar
®
name is a registered service mark of the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.

Cover art by Alan Ayers. Cover design by George Long. Logo devices by Shutterstock.

Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime trade paperback edition / August 2012

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Campbell Slan, Joanna.

Death of a schoolgirl / Joanna Campbell Slan.—Berkley Prime Crime trade paperback ed.

p. cm.

ISBN: 978-1-101-56892-7

1.  Eyre, Jane (Fictitious character)—Fiction.   2.  Schools—England—Fiction.
3.  Murder—Investigation—Fiction.   4.  Great Britain—History—19th century—Fiction.   I.  Title.

PS3603.A4845D43 2012

813’.6—dc23      2011053258

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

For my sister, Jane Ransome Campbell

Acknowledgments

As a young girl growing up in an abusive home, I discovered Charlotte Brontë’s classic
Jane Eyre: An Autobiography
—and it saved my life. Since then, I’ve met countless women who also heeded Jane’s example by getting the best education they could. So I would be remiss if I did not start my acknowledgments with a grateful nod to that supreme muse, Charlotte Brontë.

This book would not have been possible without the dedication, professionalism, and support of my wonderful agent, Paige Wheeler of Folio Literary Management, LLC, and my superlative editor, Shannon Jamieson Vazquez. I cannot thank either woman enough. Copyeditor Marianne Grace brought a wealth of knowledge to this project, and I am enormously in her debt. Early encouragement for this project was also given by Louis Bayard, and early readers included my longtime friend Theresa Kaminski, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point; Nancy LoPatin-Lummis, professor of history and chair of the History department at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point; Becky Hutchison; and Allyson Faith McGill. Novelist Shirl Henke and William Burgan both suggested marvelous historical resources. David R. Beech, FRPSL, head of the Philatelic Collections at the British Library, kindly answered my questions, as did Francine Matthews. Any errors are my own.

Hank Phillippi Ryan supplied my mantra, “You can do it if you want to do it.”

My husband, David Slan, provided me with the perfect spot for writing, our lovely home on Jupiter Island. He has always been my greatest supporter and asset. My son, Michael Slan, urged me to “think big.” My aunt Shirley Helmly served as a wonderful assistant and nurturing friend. Most of all, the one “Jane” in my life, my fabulous sister, Jane Ransome Campbell, provided love, encouragement, and faith in me, for which I shall always be deeply indebted.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

—Matthew 25:40, King James Version of the Bible

Women feel just as men feel…It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.


Jane Eyre: An Autobiography

When Jane Eyre first wrote her autobiography, it was intended as a multivolume work, for she’d lived a rich and varied life despite her harsh beginnings. But after publication of the first volume of her early life, from her birth to her marriage in 1819, the book received such an overwhelming amount of attention—some positive, but much negative—that it quite turned her against publishing the rest of the story she’d written.

A young woman well acquainted with that timeless classic purchased a stack of papers at one of the bimonthly Sunbury Antiques Markets held on the grounds of the Kempton Park Racecourse. Among the pages, this reader discovered a handwritten manuscript. On closer inspection, the papers told a tale, the ongoing saga of one Jane Eyre Rochester.

And so, dear reader, her story continues…

Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Author’­s Note

Preface

Ferndean Manor, Yorkshire

April 1, 1820

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