Cover Image: Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders

Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders

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Member Reviews

I enjoy cozy mysteries and Brightwell is quite a good author in this genre.

Mrs. Jeffries is the heroine in these victorian mysteries. The hostess of a mid-winter party is found strangled in her mansion during the party. 

There is a long list of suspects and Mrs. Jeffries is checking them all with the help of her friend Inspector Witherspoon.
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Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders is the 40th historical cozy mystery in this series by Emily Brightwell. Released 16th Nov 2021 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley imprint, it's 304 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. 

This is a whimsical and easy to read locked room Victorian cozy mystery featuring Inspector Witherspoon and his intrepid ensemble of domestic servants. These books are consistent and enjoyable - mystery "comfort food" and especially in uncertain and fraught times, being able to unplug and escape the real world for a few hours is a blessing. Despite being the 40th (!!) book in the series, it works well as a standalone and the plot is self contained and resolved in this book. There are some very light spoilers contained in this book for character developments which happened in previous books, but there's nothing egregious if the books are read out of order.

Four stars. The language is squeaky clean, there's no gore, and the violence occurs off-page.  This is one for readers who enjoy very light cozy mysteries. It's not realistic but it is full of whimsy and fun. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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First, how the heck did I miss the first 39 books in this series? Wow. Impressive. 

Second, coming off reading several fast paced, intense murder mysteries in a row, the slower pace of this one was actually quite nice. It had, well, Victorian sensibilities and a slower, more measured pace than more modern mysteries tend to do. I liked that although I'm honest enough to say I probably wouldn't like that full time, especially given the repetition involved as the helpful crew report back to each other daily. No razzle dazzle, just good ol' fashioned sleuthing and working as a team here as Mrs. Jeffries and the other characters, all of whom we got to meet briefly but sufficiently for the plot, secretly assist "their" Inspector Witherspoon to solve the locked room Christmas murder mystery. The suspects are intriguing themselves, most seemingly having a reason to kill, and I loved the teamwork and organization displayed by Witherspoon's unknown to him assistant sleuths. All and all, a delightful, intriguing read with lots of teamwork and obvious love and caring amongst the crew around Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Witherspoon. I think I'm going to have to go do some serious catching up with this new to me series. That desire alone pushed the book to a five rating for me despite it not being my usual fare. 

Thanks to #NetGalley and #BerkleyPublishingGroup for the ARC and for introducing me to a delightful series I've somehow missed.
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Inspector Witherspoon has the highest solve rate for murder cases in the police department. He’s not sure how he does it, especially since dead bodies and autopsies make him a bit squeamish, but with the help of his Constable, they get the job done.

Little does he know, he has more help than just the Constable. Witherspoon’s own servants are quite involved in his cases too. Mrs. Jeffries is his housekeeper. Each night she meets him at the door and they take a few minutes for a glass of sherry (or two!) before his dinner. He regales her with the details of the case. The next day, a maid talks to shopkeepers, the cook to deliverymen, the coachman to other drivers and a secret source. Their group isn’t limited to the working class. An American woman and her butler plus Witherspoon’s own special lady friend enthusiastically assist as well.

The newest case couldn’t have come at a worse time. It’s only days until Christmas. The victim was a woman who gave up her single life to marry a man with adult children. Her death is more of a puzzle than usual. The room was locked, and the only key was in the victim’s pocket.

The family is far from grieving. In fact, they could be said to be thrilled that they’ve inherited her money, her property, and no longer have to listen to her chastisements and odious lectures about finding a job or a husband. All agree, life was better after the marriage and the money she brought with her. It’s even better to have the money and not have her.

Mrs. Jeffries usually finds a clue or two to lead her to the killer, but this time, with the pressure of the holiday looming, she’s frustrated.

This is book forty in the series. Mrs. Jeffries and the household help work with the Constable, keep the secret from the Inspector, and drop clues in his direction. It adds to what might otherwise be a boring life. No chance of that here—the group is thoroughly addicted to the chase. Readers will be addicted to the series and with forty books, there’s plenty of reason to stay inside where it’s toasty warm, drink a hot tea, and have a scone.
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Harriet Andover had no intention of dying young like her silly siblings had. She intended to outlive them and outdo them as she always had. But Harriet discovers that the best intentions can lead to murder when she is strangled inside her mansion with a house full of holiday guests. As much as Inspector Witherspoon enjoys his job delivering justice, the last thing he wanted was a complicated murder case just a week before Christmas.

I love the Mrs. Jeffries Mysteries.  I think I have read all 40 of them and eagerly wait for the next one to be published.  I marvel at Ms. Brightwell's ability to create stories that feel new and fresh and don't disappoint.  I work as hard as I can to try to solve the mystery before I get to the end.  But, alas, that does not frequently happen.  Over time you get to love the characters in the books and get so entangled in their lives.  I do think it is time for something new to happen beside the solving of the crime.  Maybe a wedding of the Inspector.

I would like to thank the author, the publisher and NetGalley for my copy of the book.  The comments are all mine.
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Emily Brightwell brings her Victorian mysteries into Christmas with Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders.  Inspector Witherspoon is investigating the murder of Harriet Andover, a wealthy woman who married into a family with little money.  Whodunit? The husband, her stepchildren, servants?  Mrs. Jeffries, Inspector Witherspoon's household manager and her merry crew role up their sleeves to help the Inspector solve the crime before Christmas.  What could go wrong.  Excellent holiday cozy.
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The last few years I have very much looked forward to the new Mrs. Jeffries for Christmas.  This one did not disappoint though it didn't have quite as much Christmas spirit as some entries previously.  However, the fact that this was a true locked room mystery made up for it.  I've read a number of takes on locked room but not an actual one.  

Harriet Andover had a strong personality and inspired very different feelings.  Her household staff regarded her as a kind and considerate employer while her husband and stepchildren resented her wealth and tight control over it.  But was that resentment strong enough to lead to murder and if it was how was it done?  

Luckily, Mrs. Jeffries and the rest of the team are there to back up Inspector Witherspoon and Constable Barnes.  I love seeing the different characters and how they investigate according to their strengths and connections.  I also really enjoy seeing how the surreptiously get the information to Inspector Witherspoon without him knowing exactly what is going on.  I also really like that in his own right Witherspoon is a solid investigator.  While he has quite a lot of backup he is intelligent and capable as well as able to read people.  

This is a solid entertaining series.  Don't let the high number of the series keep you from picking any of these mysteries up.  Like any series with a pretty broad cast of characters each book read gets better as you get to know the characters but there's enough background information shared that even in the first book I read (I think #36) I was able to understand what was going on and who was who.  I'm already looking forward to next year's book and want to go back and read the earlier books.
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie

I always look forward to new books in the Victorian-era Mrs. Jeffries series, and this one is excellent! It can be read as a standalone, as there is sufficient backstory included. Scenes are described in such a picturesque way, I felt as if I were there. The characters that I most enjoy seeing again are defined well through conversations and behaviors.

Christmas is only a week away, and Inspector Gerald Witherspoon and his household staff are preparing to celebrate. There is almost always a murder before Christmas, so they hope this year will be different. When Witherspoon fills in for an evening shift inspector, however, he ends up catching a new case.

Witherspoon is well respected and liked by the staff at his home, which he inherited from his late aunt. He has the highest homicide solve rate in London, and unbeknownst to him, his staff contributes to each investigation. Mrs. Jeffries, the housekeeper, is skilled at organizing staff and friends with a knack for getting information from people who won’t talk to the police. She then puts all the dribs and drabs of data together. She either shares findings with Constable Barnes, who usually assists Witherspoon, or poses questions to Witherspoon that leads him to the bad guys. Yes, he can solve the murders himself, it would just take longer.

Harriet Andover was an astute businesswoman who spent Monday afternoons in the conservatory of the home she, her husband Jacob, and his adult children share. She handles all her own business and finances, working on them behind closed, locked doors to keep Jacob, Ellen, and Percy out of her business. When Harriet was late coming to dinner, Jacob sent for the extra key in his housekeeper’s alcove. They found Harriet in the conservatory, strangled with the sash from Jacob’s dressing gown.

Everybody seemed shocked when Witherspoon arrived, but few were broken up about it. Even her best friend and holiday houseguest, Marcella, didn’t seem very sad. The one exception might be her nephew Daniel, a priest from California, doing research in London. He had been a houseguest for a few weeks and getting to know his aunt.

The staff is dismayed at the loss of Harriet. While she expected them to work hard, she was fair and made sure their working conditions and compensation were more than adequate. Daniel and Harriet were growing fond of each other, and she trusted him with concerns she didn’t trust Jacob or her stepchildren with. The Andovers quickly tired of Witherspoon’s questions and visits as he was there daily to ask more questions or search for any clues.

As Mrs. Jeffries, the staff, and their friends began to talk with their sources and chat up neighbors, they found out some remarkable things about the Andover family members and Marcella. Some things were funny, such as Percy’s attitude about working! Some things were sad, while others were irritating.

Mrs. Jeffries and her group are as well defined as necessary for their roles, right down to the little daughter of Betsy and Smythe. We learn new tidbits about most of the regulars. I did enjoy the emotions Witherspoon displays at times, especially regarding a certain hobby and his nightly sherry with Mrs. Jeffries. The Andovers and Marcella are not people I would care to know, but Daniel seemed to have potential. People can be surprising, however, and I had a change of heart about some of the characters by the end.

Mrs. Jeffries is a whiz! I was astonished when she figured out who the killer was, as we see the same clues that she does. I was barely beginning to consider the person when Mrs. Jeffries sought proof. Time suddenly sped to fast forward, and the takedown had some of the funniest moments I’ve seen for a while! The Witherspoon household was ready to celebrate Christmas on time. Almost all loose ends were tied up except for a storm that was brewing throughout. Inspector Nigel Nivens, Witherspoon’s nemesis, is coming to Scotland Yard, and he’s determined to prove Gerald is a fraud. I am SO looking forward to seeing Mrs. Jeffries take him on again! I highly recommend this and the rest of the series.
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It’s almost Christmas when Inspector Witherspoon is called to the scene of his latest murder case. Wealthy businesswoman Harriet Andover is found strangled in her locked study. It seems it must be a member of her household and uncovering motives is easy, but proving who committed this terrible crime turns out to be much harder. Fortunately, Witherspoon has the hard-working Constable Barnes working alongside him at the crime scene. In addition, although he is unaware of this, his household staff and a couple of close friends help him gather clues. Mrs. Jeffries, his housekeeper, is the leader of these unofficial investigations and is able to put all the evidence together to identify the killer and find ways to make sure Witherspoon has all the information needed to get justice for the victim.

This book is part of a long-running series, but the author does a good job of including the necessary information about the main characters to bring readers who are new to the series up to speed. The reader is given the clues right along with Mrs. Jeffries and the Inspector, and will be able to figure out some, but probably not all, of the details of the case. I was pleased that all of the members of the household contribute equally to the case, without any one character dominating the book. Less satisfying is the fact that there seems to be less scenes showing the actual investigation. Things start coming together for Mrs. Jeffries and for Witherspoon, and the conclusion of the case makes sense with the clues that are given throughout the book.

The book takes place in Victorian England around Christmastime. However, except for a few passages about some of the decorations in the victim’s house, I was disappointed that there weren’t more details about holiday preparations and customs of the times. I think for a book coming out this time of year, this is a missed opportunity. There are two major developments not related to the case, that take place right at the end of the book. Without giving anything away, one is related to the personal life of a main character, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out in future books. The other is the return of Witherspoon’s nemesis Inspector Nigel Nivens. This is rumored at the very beginning of the book, but more about this is revealed at the very end. After the events of the prior book, I thought we had seen the last of him, but unfortunately it looks like he’ll be back to cause more trouble in the next book. In spite of this, I enjoyed the book and think fans of the series as well as fans of Victoria Thompson or of Anne Perry’s holiday mysteries will like it as well.

~ Christine
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They waited for the lady of the house to come down for dinner.  When she didn't show, they went up to get her.  The door was locked.  Using the spare key, they got in and found her dead on the floor.  At first they thought it was a natural death but no, she had been murdered.

Berkley and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published on the 16th of November.

The inspector for the police does the best job he can trying to find the killer.  Mrs. Jeffries helps him.  There are lots of suspects, money is the reason for the death, and it's hard to identify the killer.

They look into the other sister's death.  It was a year ago and it was thought to be suicide - but it wasn't.

They talk to everyone, look at their pasts and finally Mrs. Jeffries thinks she knows who did it.  When she accuses the killer, he takes a hostage.
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I love Mrs. Jeffries! I've read over half of this series and have loved all of them. Inspector Witherspoon has come a long way since his first cases'. That's due in a large part to the encouragement Mrs. Jeffries gives him during his murder cases. What the inspector doesn't know is that Mrs. Jeffries and the household staff play a big part in solving the murders. But throughout the cases, the inspector has gained experience and confidence. Though the staff doesn't play as large a part in gathering the clues, what they do find out is always helpful. 

Even if you've never read a book in this series, you can still enjoy it very much. The cases are wrapped up by the end of each book, so you won't get any spoilers for prior cases. In Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders, the inspector is called upon to solve the murder of a wealthy woman. This is a particularly baffling mystery since the murder happened in a locked room and the keys to the room have been accounted for. Of course with the clues he (and his staff) discover, the case is solved. 

If you're a cozy mystery lover (especially historical cozies!), you will really enjoy Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders. And if you've got time, check out the rest of the series. You'll love experiencing the character development throughout the series along with solving the mysteries.
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One of my favorite authors. I love the setting and the characters. I did figure out who done it, but this is the 40th I've read in the series and even I can start to follow the clues an author places after that many books.  However, I still didn't  figure it all out. I do wonder what the author has planned for some of the characters!

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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In Victorian London, Inspector Gerald Witherspoon of the Metropolitan Police Force has a reputation to uphold as a crackerjack crime-solver. But there’s a secret: he has help, and he’s unaware of it. Whenever he gets a new homicide case, his intrepid housekeeper, Mrs. Jeffries, calls meetings with her fellow servants and supportive neighbors, and they put their heads together. After Witherspoon comes home each evening, he relaxes over a glass of sherry with Mrs. Jeffries, telling her about the investigation, and she takes it from there. Even Constable Barnes, Witherspoon’s partner, is in on the ruse, which adds to the amusement.

This is the 40th book in Brightwell’s series, so their system clearly works well. The murders tend to happen around Christmastime, potentially mucking up holiday plans, so the pressure is on for a speedy resolution. In this volume, the victim is Mrs. Harriet Andover, strangled in her home’s locked conservatory with a dressing gown sash. Harriet was an astute businesswoman who shored up her husband Jacob’s failing fortunes with her personal wealth, and none of her family or friends seem upset at her death. Inheritance swiftly rises to the top as the motive. “They are dreadful snobs, Constable, but like so many of that class, they’ve no money,” one character explains. Each suspect is hiding something, and as alibis are provided and tested, the story pokes fun at their ridiculous behavior. Harriet’s stepson Percy, for instance, is a real piece of work.

Mrs. Jeffries’s team is a motley bunch with different connections and talents. There are many clues of varying importance, and figuring out how they all come together makes for an enjoyable ride. The late Harriet was a sensible woman, respected by her servants; the one remaining mystery is why she’d married into such an unpleasant family.

(Reviewed for the Historical Novels Review, November 2021)
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This book is a historical mystery set in England in the 1890's. It's the 40th book in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous books. This was a clue-based puzzle mystery, and there were enough clues for a reader to figure out whodunit. The story wasn't heavily historical, though there were enough details to provide a historical feel.

This wasn't one of the best in the series. We got a lot of filler, from repetition when Mrs. Jeffries thinks over the clues each night to the author giving extensive biographies on each character and telling us about them rather than showing their personalities in their interactions. Not surprisingly, whodunit was pretty easy to figure out. There was no sex. There were a few uses of bad language.
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Oh, this was SUCH a fun read! I love when I don't figure out the "whodunit" too quickly. As always, Brightwell pulls together history, fun, sleuthing, some thrills and some good insights into Victorian England to craft a fantastic read. I love revisiting these characters, they're like old friends now. This will be a perfect book to curl up with as the weather changes and it gets cooler. Brava!
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This was a delightful book to read.  I was not sure after the first chapter but once I was into the second chapter I could not stop reading.  The characters are wonderful.  The descriptions make it where you can picture them.  With this being historic and in London the writing was wonderful.  I could hear the people with their accents talking.  The cockney accent makes you think for a second but I read slower than they speak and was able to understand everything.  I changed my mind on the murderer several times during the book.  This kept me intrigued.  Once the murderer was revealed I expected the story to end.  To my delight it did not end but unfortunately there comes a time a book must end.  I now cannot wait for the next book.  I will go back and read the previous books because this is the first one I read by this author.  Her writing is refreshing and spellbinding.
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