Mrs. Jeffries Dusts for Clues
Author: Emily Brightwell
Mrs. Jeffries Dusts for Clues finds the staff fretting over a missing house maid, Mary Sparks, who was supposedly fired for stealing an expensive silver broach from her employer. The maid found new employment, but soon disappeared and hasn't been seen for two months. The police discover a woman's body, buried with a silver broach and a betrothal ring. The only problem is the feet -- the body is wearing expensive new shoes in a size much too big for the diminutive Mary. Could this be Cassie, another maid who was seeing 3 men at once and who supposedly left the area to get married? Or perhaps the dead woman is Sally Comstock, a maid who got pregnant and left for Australia? The staff jumps in to help identify the dead girl, and find out what happened to the other two maids.
This was a fun read. Victorian footmen and parlor maids gathering information from other people's servants, sneaking about after dark to find clues and doing it all without getting caught by their employer is just a cute premise for a mystery series. I do wish the Inspector was not portrayed as such a bumbling idiot sometimes though. He would rather be sitting at home with his feet up enjoying tea than investigating a murder case. Mrs. Jeffries wheedles case information out of him without once arousing any suspicion. Surely after 20 direct questions about his current investigation he would get the idea that it was strange his housekeeper cared that much about a murder investigation. But, he is always pretty oblivious, never realizing that he's been slipped important clues and information by his staff. When he's been gently coaxed onto the right track, the Inspector always rises to the occasion and solves the crime. But without that sneaky help, he would most likely bungle every case. I find myself talking to my book at times...."Oh my, how can you be so thick, Inspector??'' But part of the joy of the series is the gentle, sweet Inspector being totally oblivious that his housekeeper and employees are assisting him.
The books are quick, enjoyable reads. The story moves relatively quickly in the general cozy mystery fashion. The stories are not big on character development or deep plot lines, like most cozies. But the books have a nice humorous feel to them with just enough mystery and suspense to keep the reader wondering til the end.
If you enjoy cozy mysteries and stories set in the Victorian Era, I highly recommend this series. I will definitely be reading more! There are 34 books in this series. Oh my! I have a lot of reading to do!