Mrs. Jeffries and the Feast of St. Stephen

Emily Brightwell, Author
Emily Brightwell, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $22.95 (263p) ISBN 978-0425-21731-3
Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007

Brightwell's unobtrusive 23rd Victorian historical mystery (after Mrs. Jeffries and the Best Laid Plans ) adds a dash of holiday spirit to the adventures of Insp. Gerald Witherspoon and his housekeeper, Mrs. Jeffries. At the height of the Christmas season, Witherspoon is called in when Stephen Whitfield, a member of the upper class, is poisoned by foxglove slipped into his wine. Jeffries's below-stairs crew of irregulars track down those who were present when the fatal drink was poured, collecting rumors and gossip concerning the dead man and his family and friends. They soon find that Whitfield belonged to a tontine (an investment group where the last one alive collects the dead members' contributions) whose membership has been steadily dwindling. The writing lacks the wit of other Victorian series, such as Peter Lovesey's Sergeant Cribb novels, and the characters often border on cliché, but readers looking for a light diversion will be satisfied. (Oct.)

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