An Odd1's Reviews > Mrs. Jeffries Speaks Her Mind

Mrs. Jeffries Speaks Her Mind by Emily Brightwell
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's review
Mar 10, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: mystery
Read from February 14 to March 10, 2012

"Mrs Jeffries speaks her mind" (MJ27?) by Emily Brightwell. The title seems to come from the final scene where she represents everyone, how proud they are to aid the cause of justice, ready to face danger there, as everywhere. Despite the large cast already, I'm hooked, plan to find earlier in the series. They occur during a favorite time in a favorite city, London Ladies in long dresses. They make me feel smart, feeding clues so readers can solve the mystery first, impatient, not bored. More buildup than action, a couple of fires for spark.
Mean spinster Olive Kettering, chased out of her empty house by noises, heads toward the light of her neighbor Mrs Bernadine Fox, is shot in the forehead by "a harsh voice" she knows. And I thought I knew the murderer. London Metro Police Force Inspector Gerald Witherspoon shares a nightly sherry and debriefing with housekeeper Mrs Hepzibah Jeffries. The staff conspire with his Constable Barnes over tea cups, and meet afternoons to exchange results: coachman Smythe, footman Wiggins, married to maid Betsy, cook Mrs Goodge, friends rich American Luty Belle Crookshank and snob butler Hatchet, neighbor widow "very special friend" Lady Ruth Cannonberry (no hanky panky romance). After 27 books the backstory must have accumulated, but is thankfully abbreviated. Because the team can interview a variety of sources in all walks of life, plus an in with the coroner reports, first the reader can put the clues together, then Mrs Jeffries feeds support and hints to their employer.
Approaching Spoilerhood:
The house was empty at the funeral of the cook who died after months of stomach ailment. The servants had played tricks on their unpopular mistress and Cook had switched out her special gift cocoa. The house was built in the time of Royalists fleeing Cromwell, and used to be owned by the Foxes. I was sure I knew the perpetrator. There's more: disinherited siblings, fake larcenous Reverend with jealous wife not bound to wheelchair, and evidence that all may have been in the vicinity on the day of the murder.
Definitely Spoilerville:
I was right. I even guessed why newlywed Betsy was moody, jealous, tearful ... pregnant. For sequel, day girl Phyllis Thomlinson will live in full-time, because the staff all work outside as well on investigations, so she'll probably be told and participate. I wonder if as many real murderers as fictional used the rat poison arsenic that used to be available?
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Reading Progress

02/14/2012 page 44
11.0% "Ch1 implicates neighbor Mrs Bernadine Fox in spinster Olive Kettering's face-on shooting, but Cook's months long stomach ailment hints poison. #27 backstory kept minimal, whew. I do like the London of ladies in long dresses."
02/14/2012 page 126
32.0% "Cook drank Olive's special gift cocoa. Cook died of stomach trouble. Who gave present is murderer."
02/14/2012 page 253
65.0% "Mrs Fox gave cocoa. Aha."
100.0% "Will look for more Mrs Jeffries. Brightwell feeds us clues, so we can guess before the Victorian London Inspector Witherspoon and feel ever so clever."

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An Odd1 Internet seems to say modern forensics decreased poisonings for murder, not by accident.

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