Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: Mrs. Jeffries & the Mistletoe Mix-Up

Summary: Under a bundle of mistletoe, art collector Daniel McCourt lies with his throat slit, a bloody sword next to his body. Inspector Witherspoon is determined to solve the case-preferably before the eggnog is ladled out on Christmas Eve-but of course he will require assistance from the always sharp-witted housekeeper, Mrs. Jeffries, who has a few of her own theories on why McCourt had to die by the sword. -- Berkley

Since it's time again for Mystery Mondays, I thought I'd read a holiday-themed book this week -- MRS. JEFFRIES & THE MISTLETOE MIX-UP by Emily Brightwell. This novel is the 29th in the Victorian Mystery series, but these books were new to me. And because there's absolutely no way that I'm ever going to find the time to read the first 28th books, I decided to start with this one. I figure it's better late than never.

I thoroughly enjoyed MRS. JEFFRIES & THE MISTLETOE MIX-UP and, as far as mysteries go, I was impressed with this one. For those of you who aren't familiar with this series, the stories take place in Victorian London. Inspector Witherspoon works at Scotland Yard and is assigned various murders to solve. He's a pretty adept inspector, but his very loyal house staff (that he inherited from his aunt -- a Scotland Yard inspector doesn't make that much money!) always seems to get involved in the investigation and helps him to solve the crime. Mrs. Jeffries, more often than not, is the real brains behind the operation.

I don't know that I'd say that this time period, Victorian England, is one of my favorites; and maybe that's why I haven't ever read any of these books before. However, I found I enjoyed the setting of this story a great deal. Furthermore, I thought Ms. Brightwell does a good job of bringing the city and the time period to life. 

What I really liked, though, about MRS. JEFFRIES & THE MISTLETOE MIX-UP were the characters. Mrs. Jeffries is a wonderful amateur sleuth and I loved that the hired help assists her (and Inspector Witherspoon) in discovering the major clues in the murder mystery. All too often the upper class didn't treat their staffs as equals and I think it's so ironic that they are actually the eyes and ears of the house -- and that they are the ones to establish relationships with key witnesses. My only issue was that I found it kind of difficult keeping all of the names and roles straight for the first few chapters of the book. I can probably chalk that up to starting with the 29th book in the series instead of the first one!

As far a mysteries go, I thought MRS. JEFFRIES & THE MISTLETOE MIX-UP was very good. I appreciated how the clues unfolded and I liked that I discovered the information right along with the characters in the story. I did find myself trying to figure out the culprit (and I even guessed correctly), but I wouldn't say that the novel was predictable in the least. There were quite a few suspects, any of whom could have killed the victim, and I did change my mind on more than one occasion.

If you are a fan of cozies or are just looking for a holiday-themed book to read, then I recommend MRS. JEFFRIES & THE MISTLETOE MIX-UP. It's a fun  mystery with terrific characters.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Beth F said...

I like historical cozies. Thanks for the recommendation.

bermudaonion said...

The characters in this book do sound like lots of fun!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love your line about not having time to read the first 28! LOL

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think about that alot...these series that are like crack cocaine to the people that follow them. But if you are a newbie, it is darned intimidating to jump in when there are dozens of books that come before. It sounds fun actually, and I think I would like the setting of Victorian London.

Marie said...

I love Mrs. Jeffries and all of her mystery-solving cohorts. I'm way behind in this series, but I've really enjoyed the ones that I have read. I hope to eventually get to this one. ;)

Carol said...

I've read a couple of Mrs. Jeffries, but not all by any means. I do have this one sitting on my tbr stack. Glad to see you enjoyed it.