Publication Date: November 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Hardcover, 272pp
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Emily Brightwell on the WEB: website, facebook
Excerpt from Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up
With the birth of Betsy's baby girl, Inspector Witherspoon, Mrs. Jeffries, and the staff at Upper Edmonton Gardens are looking forward to a wonderful Christmas. But murder takes no holiday...
KISS OF DEATH
Moments after a high tea is interrupted by a fire in the servants' hall, art collector Daniel McCourt is found sprawled on the floor of his study under a bundle of mistletoe, his throat slit by the bloody sword lying next to his body. Could the killer be a disgruntled lover, sending a message by murdering McCourt under the mistletoe? Could it be one of his fellow collectors, pointedly using one of McCourt's own acquisitions to kill him?
Inspector Witherspoon is determined to solve the case - preferably before the eggnog is ladled out on Christmas Eve. But of course he will need some assistance from the always sharp-witted Mrs. Jeffries, who has a few of her own theories on why Daniel McCourt had to die by the sword...
Emily Brightwell is the author of twenty-nine Mrs. Jeffries mysteries. The latest, Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up follows a holiday theme and is sure to have English cozy fans ready to figure out whodunit. This long-standing series has thrilled fans for years and Mrs. Jeffries shows no signs of slowing down, nor does Brightwell. She has explored many different kinds of mysteries and situations with this series but still seems to have more up her sleeve. Readers who enjoy a series with re-occurring characters will love this one, though each book can stand easily on it's own merit.
Mrs. Jeffries is the indomitable housekeeper for Inspector Witherspoon, but little does everyone else know that it is Mrs. Jeffries and the rest of Witherspoon's staff that help solve the many crimes he comes up against in Victorian, England. There are so many things that I like about this series. Mrs. Jeffrie's reminds me of a character like Miss Marple or Angela Lansbury's character in Murder She Wrote. She is just too curious for own good and gets herself in all kinds of hot water. I like the fact that Brightwell uses Witherspoon's staff in a behind the scenes kind of way that adds to the chaos.
In Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up, Inspector Witherspoon is tasked to find Daniel McCourt's killer. Elaine and Daniel were married at the behest of Elaine's father, who offered McCourt a large dowry for Elaine's hand in marriage. There relationship had never been good, but when Elaine's father dies and Daniel is in charge of her money, things go from bad to worse. Daniel, an antique collector is ruthless in getting the acquistions he wants and his dealings have left him penniless and hated. With numerous suspects, Inspector Witherspoon has his hands full. Brightwell does a remarkable job of coming up with yet another original plot, which is amazing for the twenty-ninth book in a series. The suspects are all different and have varied motives that readers will have a hard time sifting through to figure out the killer. It's suspenseful to the very end.
English cozies always have a more relaxed pace and I like the feel of them. This one is historically based in the Victorian era and being a history major the setting really appeals to me. Brightwell always writes with smooth style that is engaging and draws the reader in. There is always a great hook, with her books and in this one a sword plunged into a neck artery is hard to pass up for any mystery fan. Brightwell's characters are very English and go about solving each mystery in a prim and proper way, which is fun to read about. Her writing is reminiscent of Agatha Christy and will interest readers who also liked Christy's work.
I recommend this one to cozy fans who enjoy a good mystery with a slower pace. English cozies are a little more relaxed and are great for long weekend. The holiday theme is fun for this time of year and readers who enjoy a good book in front of the Christmas tree or a roaring fire will find this one right up their ally. Even though it is number twenty-nine it is easy to pick up on the action of the series and the relationships of the characters. This is a series I hope to go back and read a lot from and I think my readers will want to catch up on the back stories as well.
Mrs. Jeffries & the Mistletoe Mix-Up is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Emily Brightwell is the author of twenty-nine Inspector Witherspoon and Mrs. Jeffries books. She lives in California.
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