My late mother was very old fashioned. She liked mysteries but she didn't want blood and gore, profanity, or sex. She just wanted a nice cozy mystery. While looking around to try and find something new for her to read I came across Mrs. Jeffries Learns the Trade by Emily Brightwell. This book fit the bill and my Mom loved it. It contained the first three books in the series. Unfortunately I found that several of the earlier books were out of print. Her publishers have remedied that now and all but three of the books have been released in anthologies and those three are scheduled to be released early next year. So grab a cup of tea, wrap your favorite afghan around you and let's get cozy with the first three Mrs. Jeffries mysteries.
Mrs. Jeffries discovers that the rest of her staff have figured out that she is helping the Inspector on his cases. They are more than happy to help themselves. Betsey specializes in talking to shop keepers. Wiggins talks to the young housemaids getting information from servants. Smythe gathers gossip in taverns. Mrs. Goodge never leaves her kitchen but plies deliverymen, chimney sweeps, etc. with food to find out her information.
They realize that the murderer has to be among the neighbors and set out to find out what they can. Dr. Hightower found the body. He is conducting a clandestine affair with Mrs. Leslie who is fiercely protected by her French maid Nanette. Colonel Seaward is up for honors the next time the Queen names ambassadors. The book has the introduction of Luty Belle Crookshank and her butler Hatchet. Luty Belle is an elderly widow who lived in the Wild West and carries a 45 Colt in her muff. Hatchet is the proper butler with more than a few secrets of his own. They are two of the most delightful characters ever. Slocum's servants are also suspicious characters.
This introduction to the mysteries is a lot of fun. I knew I was hooked. The reoccurring cast of characters and the way we learn more about them as we go along helps to make these mysteries enjoyable. Mom loved them and that gives them a special place in my heart.
Inspector Witherspoon is soon engaged in another murder when the body of a young woman is found buried in the basement of a house scheduled for demolition. Soon everyone is looking for two missing woman. Cassie Yates has also gone missing. The body is too decomposed to try and determine the identity of the victim.
As the servants investigate they begin to understand just how good they have it working for Inspector Witherspoon. As they check out the very wealthy Lutterbank family where the missing woman once worked they discover how mean and petty some households can be. Working for Reverend Everdene and his family is no better. The Reverend drinks too much and his hands are too loose with the poor maids. If a maid finds herself pregnant because of the Master of the House she is out on the street with no references and little chance of surviving. Even though these are cozy mysteries you still find out that life during that time, when Jack the Ripper was on the loose, can be very difficult.
We start to see more of the inner dynamics of the household in this book. Betsey and Smythe are starting to show feelings for each other but feelings they both deny. You learn a little about Betsey's life before coming to the household and more about Smythe's time in Australia.
In the meantime Inspector Witherspoon is struggling to figure out how the killer got in, who the killer is, and whether the pretty niece and her ex-fiancé are guilty or being set up. The housekeeper Mrs. Trotter exhibits definite signs of mental instability. To make matters even worse notes are being delivered in the Inspector's name. There is a clever protagonist in this one and the ending is really great.
This series is now up to 32 books. I'll review more of these books later doing a few at a time. They are enjoyable books and great for a chilly evening when you just want to curl up and be entertained gently. I like being able to get to know the main characters and watch how their lives evolve.
Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule:
|DAY||TIME (EST/EDT)||Series Name||Editor(s)|
|SUN||6:00 PM||Young Reader's Pavilion||The Book Bear|
|2:00 PM||What's on Your E-Reader?||Caedy|
|2:00 PM||Bibliophile's Wish List||Caedy|
|4:00 PM||Political Books||Susan from 29|
|Sun||9:30 PM||SciFi/Fantasy Book Club||quarkstomper|
|Bi-Monthly Sun||Midnight||Reading Ramblings||don mikulecky|
|MON||8:00 PM||Monday Murder Mystery||michelewln, Susan from 29|
|Mon||11:00 PM||My Favorite Books/Authors||edrie, MichiganChet|
|TUES||5:00 PM||Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left||bigjacbigjacbigjac|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00 AM||LGBT Literature||Texdude50, Dave in Northridge|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00 AM||All Things Bookstore||Dave in Northridge|
|Tue||8:00 PM||Contemporary Fiction Views||bookgirl|
|Wed||2:00 PM||e-books||Susan from 29|
|Wed||8:00 PM||Bookflurries Bookchat||cfk|
|THU||8:00 PM||Write On!||SensibleShoes|
|Thu (first each month)||11:00 AM||Monthly Bookpost||AdmiralNaismith|
|alternate Thursdays||11:00 PM||Audiobooks Club||SoCaliana|
|FRI||8:00 AM||Books That Changed My Life||Diana in NoVa|
|Fri||8:00 PM||Books Go Boom!||Brecht|
|Fri||10:00 PM||Slightly Foxed -- But Still Desirable||shortfinals|
|SAT (fourth each month)||11:00 AM||Windy City Bookworm||Chitown Kev|
|Sat||12:00 PM||You Can't Read That! Paul's Book Reviews||pwoodford|
|Sat||9:00 PM||Books So Bad They're Good||Ellid|