I was looking forward to reading Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-up by Emily Brightwell this year. I had won it last year, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it, so it was on my list for this season. I read another of the Mrs. Jeffries mysteries a few years ago, even though I don’t remember which one, so I was familiar with the basic set-up. Inspector Witherspoon with the Scotland Yard is a single man in Victorian London who has a household of staff. The staff, including his housekeeper Mrs. Jeffries, helps him solve his cases without him realizing it. They use their own contacts and do their own investigations, then Mrs. Jeffries puts just the right thoughts and questions into the Inspector’s head, allowing him to reach the correct conclusion.
This time around the household’s Christmas planning gets side-lined by murder. A prominent Oriental antiquities collector is killed, sliced through the neck with his own sword and it’s up to Inspector Witherspoon to solve the case as soon as possible.
I wanted to like Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-up. It had so many things going for it: Victorian London, a group of suspects with some interesting secrets, the Christmas time setting. And the plotline was good, secrets got revealed in parcels, giving plenty of motive to all involved. There was a bit of danger, or at least worry that Mrs. Jeffries and the others might get caught in the midst of their investigations. I even like the various characters, from Smythe and Betsy and her new baby to Luty and Ruth.
My main problem was how the reader kept getting hit over the head with how much these amateurs helped the investigator and apparently half of London knew it, including the constable Witherspoon works with, but the Inspector is too daft to realize it. And then we’d get told again about how they all meet twice a day, and it’s not just servants but upperclass women who luckily are quite open-minded and are their friends and accomplices. And of course it’s Mrs. Jeffries who solves the mystery, but she can’t tell the solution in case she’s wrong. I know that’s the shtick of this particular series, but I got annoyed. And I can’t imagine reading 30 of them. I think they’re supposed to be charming and light, but I couldn’t appreciate it. Not for me, I guess.
2½ out of 5 stars
Category: Mystery – Police Procedural
Mrs. Jeffries #29
Published November 1, 2011 by Berkley
Book source: Won
- The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries
- Mrs. Jeffries Dusts for Clues
- The Ghost and Mrs. Jeffries
- Mrs. Jeffries Takes Stock
- Mrs. Jeffries on the Ball
- Mrs. Jeffries on the Trail
- Mrs. Jeffries Plays the Cook
- Mrs. Jeffries and the Missing Alibi
- Mrs. Jeffries Stands Corrected
- Mrs. Jeffries Takes the Stage
- Mrs. Jeffries Questions the Answer
- Mrs. Jeffries Reveals Her Art
- Mrs. Jeffries Takes the Cake
- Mrs. Jeffries Rocks the Boat
- Mrs. Jeffries Weeds the Plot
- Mrs. Jeffries Pinches the Post
- Mrs. Jeffries Pleads Her Case
- Mrs. Jeffries Sweeps the Chimney
- Mrs. Jeffries Stalks the Hunter
- Mrs. Jeffries and the Silent Knight
- Mrs. Jeffries Appeals the Verdict
- Mrs. Jeffries and the Best Laid Plans
- Mrs. Jeffries and the Feast of St. Stephen
- Mrs. Jeffries Holds the Trump
- Mrs. Jeffries in the Nick of Time
- Mrs. Jeffries and the Yuletide Weddings
- Mrs. Jeffries Speaks Her Mind
- Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead
- Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up
- Mrs. Jeffries Defends Her Own
This is my third read for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2012 hosted by Michelle at The Christmas Spirit.