In her new book, Talking About Detective Fiction, detective novelist and Friend of Jane P.D. James discusses Emma as an example of detective fiction. From the Wall Street Journal review of the book:
In an opening chapter that brings in both Trollope and Charles Dickens, Lady James sends the reader speeding to the Austen shelf to pull down “the most interesting example of a mainstream novel which is also a detective story.” That would be “Emma,” Jane Austen’s tale of the young, self-appointed matchmaker Emma Woodhouse, who is not as clever as she thinks. What is the secret in the novel? The “unrecognized relationships” between characters caught up in Emma’s romantic machinations, says Lady James, adding: “The story is confined to a closed society in a rural setting, which was to become common in detective fiction, and Jane Austen deceives us with cleverly constructed clues.”
The idea of Emma as a detective story is not new, but we like the idea of Emma as a cozy mystery!