Monday, November 25, 2013

What I Read This Weekend Special Edition

What I Read This Weekend Special Edition: Victorian Mysteries by Emily Brightwell

Mrs. Jeffries Plays the Cook

Lady Cannonberry has guessed at the extra activities of Gerald Witherspoon's servants and needs their help. Her friend Minerva has a habit of taking things. She always puts them back but she recently got caught in the act by an unscrupulous businessman and he's been bullying her and blackmailing her into keeping his silence.Minerva is miserable and Lady Cannonberry thinks the servants at Upper Edmonton Gardens can help Minerva. Then the beloved pet dog of a Mr. Spears is cruelly murdered and Spears blamed his most hated neighbor, William Barrett. When Barrett ends up dead, there's really no question about who did him in ... except there is and the very woman Lady Cannonberry is trying to protect ends up a suspect. Mrs. Goodge is forced to sit this one out while she visits a sick relative. The other servants pitch in to take on the duties of the cook but none of them are qualified for the job. Will the Inspector be able to solve the mystery on an upset or empty stomach? Mrs. Jeffries will make sure of it. This mystery opened with the grand opportunity to explain kleptomania and hysteria in Victorian women and it didn't. Minerva's kleptomania is isolated outside of space and time which is unfortunate. Then there's the disgusting and cruel murder of a defenseless animal which I could not stomach at all. Still, I wanted to know "who dunnit" so I kept reading. I guessed one little mystery and had my suspect pegged. I was wrong about the murderer but not entirely on the wrong track. It was rather obvious from the clues. This story is OK. It's darker than some of the others and not the best of the bunch. I liked the personal relationship stuff that comes out slowly and getting to know the characters better. 

Mrs. Jeffries at the Missing Alibi
One dark, foggy night, a man claiming to be Inspector Witherspoon is given entrance to an office building and the man he was supposed to meet turns up dead. Inspector Nivens is given the job and even Constable Barnes doubts his ability to solve the case. Inspector Witherspoon doesn't have a good alibi but his loyal servants are positive their good employer could not have done such a thing so they set out to discreetly solve the mystery with help from Luty Belle, Hatchet and Lady Cannonberry. I figured out this mystery right away. It was SO obvious. I was surprised no one could figure out what the notes meant. I didn't know where it was from but I understood what it meant, who was next on the hit list and when the clue dropped as to why, I knew right away. To be fair, this is a novel and the clues are fairly heavy handed. In real life I don't know if someone would have picked up on them right away but I may have tossed off the idea without any real evidence. Mrs. Jeffries and staff nearly missed this one entirely. There's more back stories about the servants in this novel than in any of the previous books. I really liked that and knowing more about the characters and where they came from, especially Betsy. This story has some really dark elements to it even among the servants. While Wiggins provides a lot of comic relief, he also has a sad story. It seems like the mysteries are getting darker as they go along. 

Mrs. Jeffries Stands Corrected
Haydon Dapeers is murdered in the storeroom is his new pup, The Gilded Lily. It seems Haydon Dapeers was hated by everyone he ever met, including his brother, his wife, his sister-in-law and anyone he owes money to. Everyone who was in attendance at the opening/birthday party is a suspect and there are other suspects as well. Inspector Witherspoon decides to trust his "inner voice" on this one and solve the case without confiding in Mrs. Jeffries. The staff is stumped. How can they solve the case if the Inspector won't give them any information? Their sources turn up a little bit of gossip but nothing that will crack the case. If Inspector Witherspoon arrests the wrong person he'll back in the records room and the servants will be busy polishing floors and silver for the rest of their days. This mystery is slightly less dark than the previous two. The list of suspects is a mile long and the final reveal is a bit surprising. There are some really good subtle clues in this mystery that I didn't pick up on. I would have investigated along different lines and never solved the mystery. This isn't the most thrilling mystery but I did stay awake late reading it.

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