Sunday, December 15, 2013

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

Mrs. Jeffries Weeds the Plot  by Emily Brightwell -- Victorian Mystery

Betsy is approached by another maid, Martha, on behalf of her mistress Annabeth Gentry. Miss Gentry believes someone is trying to kill her and keep her out of her new home but her family thinks she's crazy. She wants some help to find the truth. Martha assures Miss Gentry that Betsy can help. Betsy is shameful that she was caught investigating but the others don't hold it against her. It seems Miss Gentry's problems began when her Bloodhound, Miranda, dug up a dead body. The staff are eager to begin the investigation. They decide to see if there's a link between the attempts on Miss Gentry's life and the dead man. Then the Inspector lands another murder case. Stanley McIntosh was the caretaker of the recently closed school behind Miss Gentry's house. Could the cases be connected or is Miss Gentry's family trying to scare her into giving up control of her recently inherited fortune? Mrs. Jeffries hopes she can figure it out before it's too late. This mystery is OK. I really liked Annabeth and her dog Miranda. I'm a crazy old dog-loving spinster myself so I identified with her right away. Betsy and Smythe are engaged and finally stopped arguing every five minutes. It's nice to see them affectionate with each other.The other characters are quite complex.  We never really learn what it was that Annabeth's brother-in-law did to land in disgrace which is disappointing. It became increasingly obvious who the murderer was and I had an idea why they targeted Miss Gentry but the mystery turned out to be more complicated than I expected. It also ended on quite a gruesome note. I really didn't like the evidence they found. It was too grisly and ghastly for this sort of novel. There aren't many period details in this story. The characters sort of exist in a bubble in this one except for Smythe who goes out into the East End investigating. His scenes involve a bit more period detail. I liked the story well enough but it's not my favorite of the series so far. 

Mrs. Jeffries Pinches the Post  by Emily Brightwell -- Victorian Mystery

Mrs. Jeffries et. al are eager to solve another mystery. Luck is with them when the Inspector lands the case of Harrison Nye, a wealthy businessman who was found stabbed to death on the doorstep of an empty home. It seems that a Mr. Daggett knows something he's not telling. His maid has been missing since the night of the murder when Mr. Daggett sent her out to deliver a letter. Could there be a connection? Inspector Witherspoon is on the job and he thinks he can solve this one.  Mrs. Jeffries feels the case is more complex than the good Inspector realizes. Finding answers to this one won't be easy even for the staff of Upper Edmonton Gardens. This plot isn't all that complicated. There are secrets that need to be revealed and little clues that need to be picked up on before the case is solved. I suspected who the murderer was very early on but since the reader witnesses the murder, the reader knows that the case is a bit more complex than the Inspector understands. I wasn't surprised at the reveal. I liked the interaction between the characters in this book. Betsy and Smythe are in love and understand each other now. I also liked how Inspector Witherspoon interacts with his staff. We're told what a kind man he is but it's nice to actually see it happen. He's so innocent that he doesn't understand he's not normal. It was great to see him in action and starting to figure things out for himself. The staff plus Luty Belle and Hatchet provide some lighthearted moments. This story exists in a bubble like the previous one. The characters go out and interact with working class people from butlers and maids to shop people but there's very little in the way of period details. I liked the story but I don't feel it's a stand out of the series.

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