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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mrs. Jeffries Learns The Trade by Emily Brightwell

This book actually has three "Mrs. Jeffries" novels included. It's the first I've read and I have to say I loved them! These are what I would call "gentle" murders. I could recommend it to anyone. These are not thrillers but good night time reading.

Inspector Gerald Witherspoon lives in a nice house with servants and an income he inherited. But he works in homicide at Scotland Yard during the 1890's. His housekeeper is Mrs. Jeffries, a widow of a former policeman. She oversees a cook named Mrs. Goodge who is overweight and has rheumatism so she never leaves her kitchen. But she has a way of getting gossip from all the delivery boys, tradesmen and hawkers who come in to do business with her. Mrs. Jeffries also has the maid, Betsy, who is good about chatting up maids, shopkeepers and young men. Then there is poor, simple Wiggins, the 19 yr old footman. He is faithful to do anything asked of him but can't ever figure out why it's asked of him. Then there is the coachman, Smythe, who haunts the pubs and talks to coachmen and butlers. He's also Mrs. J's heavy artillery with a bewildered backup from Wiggins. Next door is the crazy old American heiress, Luty Crookshank, whom I imagine looks and sounds like Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies. She and her butler, Hatchet, pitch in too and they can get info from the nobs. Mrs. Jefferies marshalls her crew together to solve the murders poor Inspector Witherspoon is assigned. Their job is to assist him without him knowing he is being assisted. They don't want to hurt his feelings or make him feel inadquate because they all love him.

In the first novel, "The Inspector And Mrs Jeffries", a Dr. Bartholomew Slocum is poisoned. In the second novel, "Mrs Jeffries Dusts For Clues", a murdered woman's body is found buried in a cellar of a condemned home that is being torn down. And in the last novel, "The Ghost and Mrs. Jeffries", a mean wealthy woman is shot to death in her own bedroom after visiting a seance that warned her of doom.

I recommend these gentle mysteries. You come to love the characters.

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