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Mrs. Jeffries Appeals The Verdict    by Emily Brightwell order for
Mrs. Jeffries Appeals The Verdict
by Emily Brightwell
Order:  USA  Can
Prime Crime, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Mrs. Jeffries and the rest of Inspector Witherspoon's domestic staff are always excited to have a new mystery to solve. However, this last one is a different challenge. A contact of Smythe (the coachman) appeals to them to prove the innocence of young Tommy Odell, a pickpocket already tried, convicted, and sentenced to hang for a brutal murder. It is the first time the household has had to deal with a cold case, and one that their Inspector initially refuses to touch. It is the first successful murder case of a jealous rival; Witherspoon would never interfere in the case of any colleague, and his awareness of Nivens' enmity makes him even more circumspect.

However, there is enough evidence to indicate that Nivens moved too fast and carelessly, and Mrs. Jeffries and her cohorts become increasingly concerned that an innocent man will die. Set in Victorian London, their latest mystery is a thorny one. They will need definitive proof as well as influential persons in order to reopen the case. Additionally, they risk disclosure: few people know that the brilliant Inspector Witherspoon owes his success to the efforts of his household staff, headed by an intuitive woman who can piece together clues to reach an accurate conclusion.

Fortunately, an interested party has enough clout to demand a reexamination of the case even as the conscientious Inspector finds himself unable to ignore indications of Nivens' incompetence. Thus the clandestine detectives are relieved to find allies in their investigation.

As always, Brightwell delivers an entertaining tale. Mrs Jeffries Appeals The Verdict is well plotted and once again shows us glimpses of a past era. As in most cozies, much of the appeal lies in reacquainting oneself with her likeable characters (aside from the detestable Nivens). Brightwell's characters do not remain static. Seeing them grow in self-confidence, noting the changes in their circumstances is as interesting as following the mystery plot. This prolific author is consistent in the quality of her work. If you have not yet discovered Mrs. Jeffries, Inspector Witherspoon, and the rest of his household, and if you like a cozy mystery with a historical background, you are in for a treat.

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