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Mrs. Jeffries Stalks the Hunter    by Emily Brightwell order for
Mrs. Jeffries Stalks the Hunter
by Emily Brightwell
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Those of us who like to visit Emily Brightwell's delightful Victorian world will be pleased by her latest mystery featuring Mrs. Jeffries and the rest of Inspector Witherspoon's household staff. Inspector Witherspoon's new case involves Sir Edmund Leggett, found shot to death on the very evening of his engagement party. Witherspoon, who dislikes blood and violence, once again steels himself to do his duty. He finds that Sir Edmund is a rather unsavoury sort, and that there's more than one person who's not sorry to see him dead.

This includes the victim's spirited fiancée, a young woman who had no intention of going through with her father's ambitious arranged marriage, and who had already made plans to thwart him. She is well aware that Sir Edmund's interest in her was strictly mercenary. Another intriguing suspect is the young woman who has been trailing Sir Edmund all over London. Her motive was not romance, and Sir Edmund's uneasiness at her appearances would seem to indicate a guilty secret. Even Sir Edmund's cousin and heir is a plausible suspect.

Once again, the Inspector’s loyal household takes up the trail, hiding their activities from their employer. None of them wants the Inspector to be embarrassed by their assistance, especially as his jealous rival at Scotland Yard would not hesitate to use their activities to discredit Witherspoon. As always, Brightwell's characters charm the reader, from Wiggins, the eager young footman, to Mrs. Jeffries herself, a strong-minded woman ahead of her time.

If the Inspector's comfortable household is atypical of Victorian England, Brightwell reminds us that the lot of the ordinary servant was much less happy than that of her characters. Fans of the series will be eager to learn what is new in the lives of Witherspoon's secret supporters, and Mrs. Jeffries Stalks the Hunter makes a very pleasant diversion for a snowy afternoon – or any other time you can spare.

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