Inspector Gerald Witherspoon and his housekeeper, Mrs. Jeffries, have returned for their twenty-sixth adventure in Emily Brightwell’s Mrs. Jeffries and the Yuletide Weddings. In just a few days, Smythe and Betsy were getting married, and then a week later the Christmas holiday would be upon them. Although the household staff was excited about the upcoming nuptials, they were concerned that the newlyweds were moving to a flat around the corner. How would that affect their murder investigations if part of the tight-knit team were no longer around?
Just as the staff was commenting about the lack of a recent case, a middle-aged spinster was stabbed to death in what the killer was hoping would look like a random crime. The victim appeared to have met her fate in the early evening hours just outside of the Jeremy Evans home while they were holding high tea for a number of well-to-do guests as the family announced the upcoming marriage of their daughter to Sir Madison Lowery.
While Inspector Witherspoon and Constable Barnes began their preliminary investigation, the Witherspoon household was all-atwitter at the thought of another case to solve. What they did not anticipate were the web of lies and depth of secrets they would need to unravel to arrive at the truth.
While Mrs. Jeffries and her helpers are scouring the area for clues, the bride-to-be is spending time with her sister and brother-in-law from Canada, attending to last minute wedding details, and concerned about where she is going to live after her marriage. Smythe’s desire to surprise his bride is causing more tension in their relationship than he would hope. As the special day draws closer, will there even be a wedding?
Emily Brightwell has created a wonderful heroine in Mrs. Jeffries. As astute as the housekeeper is, she still is vulnerable to doubts about whether she can solve the current case and help her beloved inspector. The upstairs/downstairs feel of this Victorian novel based in England allows the reader to know the behind-the-scenes conversations going on in more than one household.
The author’s ability to stage an authentic period scene allows the reader to feel a part of the story as he or she is emotionally drawn into the action. By the end of the book, it is easy to believe that one is part of the scenery, standing on the side of the road watching the various activities as they take place.