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Mrs. Jeffries Appeals the Verdict
An Inspector Witherspoon and Mrs. Jeffries Victorian mystery, No. 21

by Emily Brightwell

      Blimpey Groggins returns to London from his vacation to find that his friend, Tommy Odell, has been found guilty of killing Caroline Murran, a factory owner, and is to hang in a few weeks. The police, in the guise of Inspector Nivens, have declared this a robbery. The victim's husband's watch was found in a local pawnshop. Tommy was identified as the man pawning the watch. Tommy, a pickpocket by trade, maintains his innocence; claiming that he had stolen the watch from Caroline's husband, Keith, earlier in the evening and had nothing to do with the shooting. Caroline was shot and killed; her husband rendered unconscious by a blow to his head. Blimpey believes Tommy, and asks his friend Smythe to enlist the aid of the household staff of Inspector Gerald Witherspoon of the Metropolitan Police Force to investigate the murder.

The Inspector's housekeeper, Mrs. Hephzibah Jeffries, in collaboration with her household staff, has solved more than 20 murders with which the Inspector has been credited. He is quite oblivious of the fact that he has been helped. He just believes that he has been in the right place at the right time. His constable, Barnes, is aware of what has been occurring, but keeps silent. Mrs. Jeffries and her staff agree to take on the task even though it will be difficult since the case has already been solved, the trail is cold, and they will have no access to the case file since the case belongs to Inspector Nivens, Witherspoon's nemesis. Their investigations uncover hidden jealousies, old family tragedy and unexpected revivals.

This is an enjoyable read about a household determined to protect its employer and his position. The characters continue to develop with the series. The characters are all pleasant and competent people you would like to know. The story is well plotted and is moved along by the efficiency of Mrs. Jeffries. It astounds me that any work was done in the Witherspoon household since all the staff is involved in the investigations. And the number of buns and seed cakes consumed and the amount of tea that was drunk during the many conferences of the staff!!! The atmosphere of the Victorian household and Victorian society is well presented.

Other reviews in this series

Mrs. Jeffries Appeals the Verdict, #21   [review]
Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead,
#28   [review]
Mrs. Jeffries and the Silent Knight,
#20   [review]
Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up, #29   [review]
Mrs Jeffries Defends Her Own, #30   [review
Mrs. Jeffries Turns the Tide #31  [review
Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry Gentlemen #32 [review
Mrs. Jeffries and the One Who Got Away #34 [review

Mrs Jeffries Wins the Prize #35 [review

The Book

Berkley Prime Crime
May 2006
Historical Mystery

The Reviewer

Barbara Buhrer
Reviewed 2006
© 2006