Born in Wales; married. Education: Oxford University, Ph.D.
Let There Be Blood, Headline (London, England), 1997, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2004.
The Egyptian Coffin, Headline (London, England), 1997.
Fool's Gold, Headline (London, England), 1998.
"CECILE GALANT" SERIES
Death in the South of France, Allison & Busby (London, England), 2001.
Death at Versailles, Allison & Busby (London, England), 2003.
"CLAUDE MONET" MYSTERY SERIES
In the Kingdom of Mists, Doubleday (London, England), 2002, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2004.
In the City of Dark Waters, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor) Kidder's Receipts (cookbook), Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, England), 2001.
Contributor to journals and newspapers, including New Statesman, Oxford magazine, and London Sunday Times. Interviewer and crime fiction reviewer for Independent.
Jane Jakeman is an Oxford, England-based mystery writer whose books often explore historical themes and sometimes feature historical personages, such as the Impressionist painter Claude Monet—albeit in a supporting role. Several critics have praised her evocation of past eras as well as her mystery plotting.
Let There Be Blood is the first book of the "Malfine Trilogy," featuring the Byronic hero Lord Ambrose Malfine. Malfine, a veteran of the Greek war for independence in the 1830s, has returned to his ancestral home to nurse his wounds. His war wounds have left him physically scarred, and he wants to withdraw from society. But fate, in the form of a double murder, intervenes, and Malfine is forced to involve himself in delivering the accused murderer (a gypsy) from the mob that wants to lynch him. "It's a decision," a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented, "that will save the gypsy's life but doom Lord Ambrose to a grisly imprisonment." Malfine's adventures continue in Jakeman's novels The Egyptian Coffin and Fool's Gold.
Death in the South of France and Death at Versailles both feature French detective Cecile Galant. In Death in the South of France the body of Charles Cashel's nineteen-year-old half-sister turns up in Cannes and may be part of a recent rash of murders that have plagued the city, or the murder may be connected with the activities of the local mafioso. Rex Klett, writing in the Library Journal, described the novel as characterized by "relatively low-key action and well-delineated settings." Death at Versailles takes Galant—who has been transferred north for safety following the conclusion of Death in the South of France—into a confusing series of possibly supernatural sightings that may be related to the execution of Marie Antoinette two hundred years earlier. "Jakeman makes good use of the mixture of historical and contemporary events," stated Barbara Bibel in Booklist.
Jakeman drew on her art history background—she has a doctorate in the subject—for In the Kingdom of Mists. The book tells the story of Monet, public servant Oliver Cranston, and detective inspector William Garrety. In London in the winter of 1900, Monet is trying to capture on canvas the way that light plays through the fog of the Thames River; Cranston is dealing with a hotel floor full of British Army officers who have been maimed in the ongoing Boer War; and Garrety has been confronted with the butchered corpses of two women who have been dredged up from the Thames. The women have been killed in a manner reminiscent of the crimes of Jack the Ripper, who haunted the London streets some twelve years earlier. Garrety's situation worsens when his wife, desperate to conceive a child, comes too close to the murderer, Dr. Cavendish Bolitho. According to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, Bolitho preys on women who need "therapy for medical problems Victorian society deems as unmentionable." Some other reviewers also noted Jakeman's portrayal of period details. "The author," commented a critic in Publishers Weekly, "convincingly evokes fin-de-siecle London with its class and gender prejudices," while Booklist reviewer GraceAnne A. DeCandido called the book "a dark pot of tea, smoky and bitter."
In the City of Dark Waters features Monet as well. It is 1908, and the painter and his second wife, Alice, are visiting Venice, having desired to get away from Paris after the murder of Alice's brother-in-law. Two servants are under arrest for the crime, but Monet suspects someone else is responsible, so he asks Revel Callender, a British lawyer on sabbatical in Venice, to investigate. Callender also is looking into the mysterious death of a law client, the Venetian Count Casimiri, and is becoming attracted to another member of the Casimiri family, the beautiful young Clara. Callender ends up uncovering numerous secrets, some of them sexual in nature. Some reviewers found the story compelling, and its Venice vivid and fascinating. Jakeman offers "impeccable pacing and prose" in service of her "complex and shadowy plot," commented a Publishers Weekly critic. Barbara Bibel, writing in Booklist, noted that "Jakeman nails the atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Venice" and called the book "a must" for lovers of historical mysteries. A Kirkus Reviews contributor summed up the novel as "an enthralling tale of depravity and injustice … that will keep readers on the edge of their seats."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2003, Barbara Bibel, review of Death at Versailles, p. 1546; February 15, 2004, GraceAnne A. Decandido, review of In the Kingdom of Mists, p. 1042; May 1, 2006, Barbara Bibel, review of In the City of Dark Waters, p. 34.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of In the Kingdom of Mists, p. 17; July 15, 2004, review of Let There Be Blood, p. 662; March 1, 2006, review of In the City of Dark Waters, p. 211.
Library Journal, August, 2001, Rex Klett, review of Death in the South of France, p. 170; February 15, 2004, Jean Langlais, review of In the Kingdom of Mists, p. 161.
Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2001, review of Death in the South of France, p. 59; February 16, 2004, review of In the Kingdom of Mists, p. 156; March 20, 2006, review of In the City of Dark Waters, p. 40.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 21, 2004, Dick Adler, review of In the Kingdom of Mists, p. 6.
Harriet Klausner Web site,http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/ (March 18, 2008), Harriet Klausner, review of In the City of Dark Waters.
Jane Jakeman Home Page,http://malfine.tripod.com (March 18, 2008).
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com (March 3, 2006), Jane Davis, review of The Egyptian Coffin; (June 7, 2006), Lesley Dunlap, review of In the City of Dark Waters.