Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries

(Mrs. Jeffries, #1)

As housekeeper to Scotland Yard Inspector Witherspoon, Mrs Jeffries supervises informal investigators: coachman Smythe, maid Betsy, footman Wiggins, arthritic cook Mrs Goodge and more. Rich widow Luty Bell Crookshank, experienced nurse, knows stingy incompetent blackmailer Dr Slocum did not succumb to mushroom soup at neighborhood luncheon.

Cozy mysteries can be such fun, and this one especially looked so by the blurb and cover – a maid and other household help assist an investigator without his knowledge to solve crimes. It’s set in Victorian times with afternoon teas, proper society regulations on etiquette, and the infamous Scotland Yard. When looking at this series, I’m surprised to find there is over thirty books in it. Wow. I plan to get more of the series but not sure I’ll ever be able to get and read all of them.

The book starts out as suggested: cute, quirky, and intriguing. Immediately I liked Mrs. Jeffries. She’s sweet, clever, supportive. I didn’t know the other help had such a large role in solving the crimes, but delightfully they do, all bringing their individual traits to the table. The detective is subpar with his investigative technique and confidence, previously having been in the filing room for the majority of his career, but this only brings more charm to the story. The guilty party at the end doesn’t stand out much in personality; I wouldn’t have guessed them to be the killer, and motivation came toward the end anyway.

Ultimately it wasn’t a mystery easy to guess, the clues were leading on many paths and pointing fingers everywhere. Plenty of red herrings helped cloak the genuine culprit. The road to solving it wasn’t paved with anything obvious. Sometimes it’s cheating not to give enough clues for the reader to really guess, and sometimes it’s overwhelming to have so many suspects in the pot and little of them explored, but the point of this story seems to be the path to investigating and the enjoyment of observing the process with the cast and crew, not the ultimate outcome itself.

Emily Brightwell pleased me by keeping action consistent, injecting cuteness when it’s needed while holding true to the British type of mystery novel it’s intended to be. Overall this one was fun to read, light in tone and mood and outcome, being an enjoyable cute, cozy mystery that’s easy to pick up and keep reading. It doesn’t leave a lasting impression on the heart as something you can’t live without, however, so I do hope the next books in the series bring more individual stake for the detective and other main players. More excitement would flourish that way.

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