The Late Mrs. Willoughby

Last year, Claudia Gray began a new Regency mystery series with The Murder of Mr. Wickham. As you may have surmised from that title, the story is inspired by Jane Austen and indeed features characters from all six of her novels. It also introduced several new characters, including our sleuthing protagonists, the respective children the Darcys and Tilneys. The Mr. Darcy and Miss Tilney Mystery series continues with its second installment, The Late Mrs. Willoughby, and it is equally charming.

Special thanks to Austenprose PR, Vintage Books, and NetGalley for the review copy of this book!


Only a few months after solving the case of Mr. Wickham’s murder together, Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney find themselves visiting friends in the same town, she with the Brandons and he with the Willoughbys. But when both house parties converge at a dinner hosted by the Middletons, another murder takes place: The new Mrs. Willoughby is poisoned. Who would want her dead? Or was Mr. Willoughby meant to be the real target? How can they prevent the blame wrongly landing on Marianne Brandon? Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney are on the case again… and also processing their growing feelings for each other.


Unlike with The Murder of Mr. Wickham, which featured characters from all six of Jane Austen’s novels (from Sense and Sensibility through Persuasion; Lady Susan and unfinished works not included), The Late Mrs. Willoughby focuses on the characters from Sense and Sensibility. This novel features the Dashwoods and the Brandons, the Willoughbys and the Ferrars, as well as the Middletons, Mrs. Jennings, and Beth Williams. Other than Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney (the children from the starring couples in Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, respectively), no other books are represented here. I expect we’ll see characters from those works in future installments of this series—at least, I hope so!

The Late Mrs. Willoughby opens with both Juliet Tilney and Jonathan Darcy ending up as guests in Devonshire. Juliet is staying with Marianne and Colonel Brandon, after having befriended both that summer; Jonathan is staying with his childhood “friend” (bully), John Willoughby, along with Mrs. Willoughby and two other former classmates. All is going well enough until both parties are invited to a dinner party hosted by the Middletons. Jonathan and Juliet are excited to be reunited, but things end badly when Mrs. Willoughby is poisoned. Who murdered her? And why? Once again, Jonathan and Juliet are on the case. This time, Jonathan’s tentative childhood friend Ralph Bamber (the only one who didn’t bully him) joins in their investigation.

As with the previous book, I love how Jonathan’s (undiagnosed) autism is portrayed. Many around don’t understand him, and it has led to the aforementioned bullying he enduring in school. His parents also have tried to gently nudge him towards more “proper” behavior. As such, he’s gotten skilled at masking certain parts of himself. It’s interesting to see Jonathan logically attempt to interpret social cues and carefully consider his words before speaking. Even so, Jonathan’s neurodivergence can help in some matters, allowing him to see things from a different perspective and make sense of the clues in a new way. And as before, I love that Juliet accepts him for who he is.

While the previous book was a locked room mystery, The Late Mrs. Willoughby exists within the town of Barton, opening it up and giving rise to one of my favorite aspects here: the town gossip! Several times throughout the book, we readers get to enjoy the development and dramatic escalation of rumors pertaining to the murder mystery. Some of the things these people believe! Such outlandish claims that don’t make sense, and yet just because that’s what they heard through the grapevine, now they believe it must be so. It’s so funny how the rumors change with each new event throughout the book.

This murder gets a bit more twisty than in the first installment. Indeed, is it possible Mrs. Willoughby wasn’t even the intended victim? And what of the new attacks that keep happening? There’s more at play here, keeping the reader guessing. Though I will proudly say, I correctly guessed two different reveals well in advance. Perhaps I should become a detective, too?

During Jonathan, Juliet, and Ralph’s investigation of the murder, romantic feelings are also starting to arise (perhaps somewhat thanks to the matchmaking-minded Mrs. Jennings). Is Juliet developing a particular attachment to Jonathan? Does Jonathan even want a relationship, given his slight aversion to physical touch? And when Ralph starts expressing his desire to court Juliet, is that what she wants? It’s a bit of a love triangle, and I’m eager to see how the romance develops in the next book!

The Late Mrs. Willoughby features several side stories, in addition to the mystery and romance at hand. These largely focus on Elinor and Edward Ferrars, but also on Beth Williams. Some side stories dovetail with the mystery more than others, and some can feel a bit distracting, somewhat slowing the novel’s pace. It is nice to see the characters’ lives and relationships fleshed out some more here. And maybe they’re setting up for the next book in the series? Indeed, there is a hint of another mystery happening only a few weeks after this one. Already, I’m looking forward to book #3.

Final Thoughts

The Mr. Darcy and Miss Tilney Mystery series has been a delight so far, and if you enjoyed The Murder of Mr. Wickham, you’ll love The Late Mrs. Willoughby. Any fan of Jane Austen and cozy mysteries should absolutely read both novels, as well as any other books that follow in this series. I can hardly wait to see what Jonathan and Juliet get up to next!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Get the Book

You can buy The Late Mrs. Willoughby here and at the below links – it’s available as a hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.


The Late Mrs. Willoughby by Claudia Gray
SeriesMr. Darcy and Miss Tilney Mystery (#2)
GenreHistorical Mystery; Cozy Mystery; Historical Romance
Number of Pages400
Format I Readebook (NetGalley)
Original Publication DateMay 16, 2023

Official Summary

The suspenseful sequel to The Murder of Mr. Wickham, which sees Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney reunited, and with another mystery to solve: the dreadful poisoning of the scoundrel Willoughby’s new wife.

“An absolute page-turner full of well-plotted mystery and hints of simmering romance…. More of the Jane Austen characters we love (as well as those we love to hate).” —Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic and Adobo

Catherine and Henry Tilney of Northanger Abbey are not entirely pleased to be sending their eligible young daughter Juliet out into the world again: the last house party she attended, at the home of the Knightleys, involved a murder—which Juliet helped solve. Particularly concerning is that she intends to visit her new friend Marianne Brandon, who’s returned home to Devonshire shrouded in fresh scandal—made more potent by the news that her former suitor, the rakish Mr. Willoughby, intends to take up residence at his local estate with his new bride.

Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley are thrilled that their eldest son, Jonathan—who, like his father, has not always been the most socially adept—has been invited to stay with his former schoolmate, John Willoughby. Jonathan himself is decidedly less taken with the notion of having to spend extended time under the roof of his old bully, but that all changes when he finds himself reunited with his fellow amateur sleuth, the radiant Miss Tilney. And when shortly thereafter, Willoughby’s new wife—whom he married for her fortune—dies horribly at the party meant to welcome her to town.

With rumors flying and Marianne—known to be both unstable and previously jilted by the dead woman’s newly made widower—under increased suspicion, Jonathan and Juliet must team up once more to uncover the murderer. But as they collect clues and close in on suspects, eerie incidents suggest that the killer may strike again, and that the pair are in far graver danger than they or their families could imagine.

About the Author

Claudia Gray 2022

Credit: Stephanie Knapp

Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She is the writer of multiple young adult novels, including the Evernight series, the Firebird trilogy, and the Constellation trilogy. In addition, she’s written several Star Wars novels, such as Lost Stars and Bloodline. She makes her home in New Orleans with her husband Paul and assorted small dogs.


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