Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Mrs Jeffries on the Ball

Mrs. Jeffries on the Ball (Victorian Mystery)Mrs. Jeffries on the Ball by Emily Brightwell is the fifth book in the Mrs. Jeffries cozy mystery series. Mrs. Jeffries is the housekeeper for Scotland Yard Inspector Witherspoon, who doesn't have the best investigative skills, so she, along with the rest of the household staff, actually solve each of his cases through careful interviewing without ever letting on to the Inspector or the Yard. When a woman is murdered at a ball honoring the Queen's Jubilee, suspicion falls on her fellow members of a literary circle. The case is tricky when at first it seems that no one would have motive for her murder and then it turns out nearly everyone did! Brightwell continues developing the characters of the household, adding in some detail about Smythe, the coachman, that would shake up the entire staff if they found out, plus Witherspoon's obnoxious cousin is visiting, making investigation ever more difficult. Brightwell does a superb job of writing this cozy series. Each novel focuses on slow development of the characters while giving readers a look at class distinctions of the late 1800s. Brightwell slips up with a mistake in the plot. When Smythe informs the house of the murder, he tells them how he interviewed the victim's carriage driver, gaining information about her mood before the dance. Later in the novel, Wiggins shares that he discovered that a young boy rode with her to the ball, so Smythe asks where the victim hired her coach for the night and says that he will interview the driver. The clue is dropped at that point and doesn't add anything to the discovery of the murderer, but this major error makes this a frustrating read, not quite up to the standard of the rest of the series.