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Murder Through the English Post

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I love a good cozy mystery! One that incorporates all of my favorite topics (i.e. bookstores, libraries, cooking, painting, inn keeping, animals, etc.), throwing in some action-suspense, a who-done-it, interesting characters, and a plot that keeps me guessing, then you’ve got me hooked. I will say, I am one of those people who like to read a series from the beginning, but I often find you don’t have to… either way I highly recommend reading Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott.

*I received a complimentary copy of this novel from NetGalley at my request and this review is my own unbiased opinion.*
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In their little village of Walmsley Parva, Edwina and Beryl are once again investigating. This time it appears many of the villagers are receiving poison pen letters.

Follow along as Edwina and Beryl discover the many lies and sometime truths that are told in these letters and unravel the person or person involved.

I love these stories by Jessica Ellicott and the characters she has introduced us too. I look forward to the next instalment and escapades of our sleuths.
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Beryl and Edwina met at school. Now here they are, years later, sharing a home. Simpkins, the gardener, has inherited money, making him richer than Beryl and Edwina put together. He’s moved into the house as well.

After the war ended, what used to be strict moral codes and knowing your place fell away. Men rich and poor fought together with a common enemy. Once home, class lines have blurred. Beryl is described as an American adventuress, a daredevil some might say. Edwina has always done the right thing, at least until she and Beryl met again. Now they have a private detective agency and Edwina has become, of all things, a magistrate.

One of the last cases of the day concerns two men fighting in the street. As Constable Doris Gibbs attempted to break up the fight, one punch found its way to her face. Edwina is appalled such a thing could happen. When the facts come out, it’s this—Michael received a letter advising him that Norman had spoken badly about him and what was said was a lie. Once the men realize the letter was a malicious lie, the case is dismissed.

However, the letters keep coming. A mother is accused of neglecting her child and causing its death, a married woman is accused of having a lover, and even Beryl receives a letter saying the writer knows why Simpkins moved into the house and where does he sleep there. Beryl laughed at her letter, but others take them much more seriously. Soon, it seems everyone in the village has received one and each looks at others to decipher who wrote them. When a villager is murdered, Beryl and Edwina have a new case. It’s all because of the letters.

This is book six in the series. I enjoy this series. Beryl is up for new experiences while Edwina has to build up her courage to venture outside the lines. Simpkins, formerly seen as a lazy gardener, now is an entrepreneur full of ideas. His latest involves Beryl and Edwina in a way that will make their faces known across the country. Whatever comes next, it’s bound to be an adventure and one I’ll enjoy reading about.
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Jessica Elliott involves Beryl and Edwina in another village case in Murder through the English Post.  Someone is sending poison pen letters to the villagers, most of which are full of false and damaging innuendos;  Some are spot on about bad behavior.  Who is sending the letters?  Beryl and Edwina try to identify the sender.  Excellent Engllish cozy.
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Take one sleepy English village, add 2 spunky lady detectives, and throw in gobs of nasty poison pen letters and you've got Jessica Ellicott's sixth Beryl and Edwina Mystery - Murder Through the English Post.  With twists, turns, and secrets galore, this fun cozy will keep the reader guessing until the very end.  A+++
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EXCERPT: The envelope seemed to be a perfectly ordinary sort. In fact, there was nothing about it that called any notice. It certainly did not seem the sort of thing to provoke offense. In fact, the hand writing was extremely tidy and legible. It was addressed to Michael Blackburn at the garage and had been neatly slit open with a letter opener. There was no return address and it had been postmarked for the previous week. Edwina slipped her hand inside and extracted a sheet of paper. She unfolded it and, to her surprise, saw before her a document comprised of letters and words cut from newspapers and magazines. She quickly read through the information it contained then looked back at Michael.

'I can see why you would be infuriated by receiving this.' She turned towards Norman. 'Norman, did you tell customers at Mr Scott's shop that Michael had not in fact received his injury by fighting the enemy but rather had been shot while trying to desert his unit?' Edwina asked, tapping her finger against the offensive document.

She kept her eyes trained carefully on Norman Davies face. She considered herself to be quite a good judge of dishonesty and all she saw flickering across his face was complete and total bafflement. He shook his head slowly as if stunned by what he was hearing.

'I would never say a thing like that. I would never even think of things like that. Michael and I have been friends since we were boys and I know exactly what kind of man he is. Who would say such a hateful thing about him, or about me?' Norman said turning back towards the assembled crowd in the gallery.

Who indeed? Edwina wondered.

ABOUT 'MURDER THROUGH THE ENGLISH POST': A rash of poison pen letters has enveloped the sleepy English village of Walmsley Parva in cloud of suspicion and paranoia. But when rampant aspersions culminate in murder, enquiry agents Beryl Helliwell and Edwina Davenport must stamp out the evil-minded epistles . . .

What began for two dear if very different friends--an American adventuress and a prim and proper Brit--as a creative response to the lean times following the Great War has evolved into a respectable private enquiry business. So much so that Constable Gibbs calls upon Beryl and Edwina to solve a curious campaign of character assassination.

A series of anonymous accusations sent via post have set friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor. In her new position as magistrate, Edwina has already had to settle one dispute that led to fisticuffs. Even Beryl has received a poison pen letter, and while she finds its message preposterous and laughable, others are taking the missives to heart. Their headstrong housekeeper Beddoes is ready to resign and one villager has attempted to take her own life.

The disruption of the peace goes far beyond malicious mischief when another villager is murdered. Now it's up to the intrepid sleuths to read between the lines and narrow down the suspects to identify the lethal letter writer and ensure that justice is delivered . . .

MY THOUGHTS: Delightfully entertaining.

Although this is #6 in a series, and I haven't read any of the previous books - something I intend remedying - I had no problems with either the storyline or the characters. The author kindly provides just enough background on the characters so that the reader knows a little about them and how they came to their present positions, and each story is a 'self-contained' mystery.

This series is set after the war in the English village of Walmsley Parva, where life proceeds at a slow pace and, if you want to know the current gossip you pay the local postmistress a visit. There's a village pub, a village doctor, a store, a church or two, and the gardening circle.

Edwina has been in some financial difficulties, making it necessary for her to take in lodgers, resulting in somewhat unusual living arrangements, themselves the cause of some village gossip. Beryl, an American, has been slow to have been accepted by the locals, her different background and lack of knowledge of etiquette causing a few problems. Simpkins, the second lodger, was the gardener and husband of the Edwina's recently deceased housekeeper.

Edwina and Beryl have started a Private Investigators Agency, something totally unheard of for two women to undertake in this era! It is to them that the local constable turns when a rash of poison pen letters start being received in the village. Through their investigation we meet many of the villagers, and I had to wonder, as the contents of the various letters were revealed, if there couldn't be a grain of truth in at least some of the accusations.

The author kept me interested throughout this book. She gave nothing away and there were no obvious suspects. I was kept guessing right up to the very satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed the main characters' quirks and the easy relationship between the three housemates. The dialogue is well written and flows easily, as does the plot.

Altogether a fun and satisfying read. I was lucky enough to be provided with both a digital and audio copy of Murder Through the English Post, and enjoyed both equally.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#MurderThroughtheEnglishPost #NetGalley

I: @jessicaellicottauthor @kensingtonbooks @recordedbooks

T: #JessicaEllicott @KensingtonBooks

#cosymystery #historicalfiction @recordedbooks

THE AUTHOR: Jessica Ellicott loves fountain pens, Mini Coopers, and throwing parties. She lives in northern New England where she obsessively knits wool socks and enthusiastically speaks Portuguese with a shocking disregard for the rules of grammar.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books for providing the digital ARC and RB Media for providing the audio ARC of Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie

Edwina and Beryl, the delightful protagonists of this series, invited me in for a cup of coffee on the first page and welcomed me into their investigation. As a fan of historical fiction, I enjoyed learning more about post World War I Europe, especially the idyllic English countryside. I appreciated seeing various trades and careers women learned to keep life going on the home front during and after the war. The characters, setting, the plot itself, and its mystifying situations were delightful yet bittersweet. The novel was thought-provoking; what Edwina discovered about herself is as useful today as a century ago.

Edwina lives at the Beeches, her family home passed down through several generations. The Great War and the following months found many people in England, including her village of Walmsley Parva, struggling economically. Edwina was prepared to take in a boarder until her long-time dear friend Beryl came for an extended visit. They opened a private enquiry business. The differences in their perspectives due to their backgrounds were beneficial to the business and its income. Simpkins, a gardener who suddenly found himself the majority owner of a condiment company, also moved in and put much work and money into the gardens at the Beeches. It worked well for everyone and gave them their own little family of sorts.

Edwina began to work as a magistrate at the local court. On her first day, she learned about a poison pen letter sent to one of two men involved in an altercation. One man, Michael, found out by way of this anonymous, craftily prepared letter that his childhood friend, Norman, told nasty, hurtful lies about him. Michael confronted him about the letter and its contents, and Norman’s repeated claim of innocence did not calm him, thus the fight that brought them to court.

Over the next few days, several more people received poison pen letters, including Beryl and their housekeeper, Beddoes. Constable Gibbs asked their assistance after another woman, wife of the village doctor, attempted suicide after receiving a particularly venomous letter. One woman died, possibly the result of a stress-induced asthma attack.

Edwina noticed subtle differences in the letters, especially after discovering a huge clue. Some things were consistent with all the letters, such as the brand of envelopes and paper, the block lettering, and the use of words and letters snipped from periodicals. It was quite the puzzle, and nothing seemed to bring them closer to finding the bad guy. Or gal, since most poison pen letter senders were women.

The characters are three dimensional, most very likable and believable. Beryl, a worldly American adventuress who had traveled around the globe, including helping in various capacities during the war, was nothing like the very sheltered, proper Edwina. Their differences served to complement each other’s unique points of view. It was a friendship that worked, lasting the test of time. Simpkins did not seem like a man who was part owner of a national company. His keen observation and natural intelligence, coupled with what he’d learned of human nature over the years, however, gave him a perspective that could take him from the orchard or garden to the boardroom with ease.

Beginning to end, this was a very satisfying novel, with amazing descriptions of the era, the gardens, and how Beryl’s knowledge and wisdom acquired from years of travel and treks could be used in the genteel countryside. Plot twists made frequent changes to the suspect list. My list was quite short, even considering what they discovered amongst the letters. For some, the results were as toxic to life or reputation as if the sender had used physical poison. The solutions were discovered, and a sad justice of sorts was meted out. Edwina, Beryl, and their friend Charles had grown and changed in noticeable ways as result of those letters. I highly recommend this historical cozy mystery and am eagerly looking forward to the next one!
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I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of The Gunslinger's Guide to Avoiding Matrimony. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington for providing an ARC to review.

To start, I want to say how well-written this novel is. The writing style is perfect for the period and setting up the post-Great War world of England. I enjoyed the depiction of the changing role of women in the workplace. Beryl and Edwina were multi-layered characters and were fine examples of how cultural ideals changed after the first World War. With all this in mind, I am not sure this period of cozy mysteries is my thing. I had a lot of trouble connecting with this book and the various characters. So I recommend everyone give it a try, but for my taste, I give this book 3/5 stars.
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I’m not sure what it is but this series just does not work for me. I have only tried one other book in this series and because I thought that I didn’t give it enough of a chance, I decided  I’d try another one. Sadly, same result, it was so boring that it took me four days to finish it even though there are a lot of things about the series that should appeal to me. It takes place during the between the war years, it has two female protagonists, it is set in an English village. And to top it off, this one uses a poison pen writer as the culprit. Poison pen letters were a common concept in the novels of several  Golden Age authors including Agatha Christie, Dorothy Lee Sayers, and Patricia Wentworth to name a few.  I gave it a chance but it just lacks that spark to hold my interest.
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Edwina and Beryl are two of my favourite literary characters and it is lovely to be back with them in “Murder Through the English Post”, book six of this great series! Village life is disturbed when poison pen letters start appearing, fights break out between neighbours and soon, one person is found dead. Called upon to make it all stop, the two investigators take on the case!

The plausibility of some of the characters’ moves could be questioned but holistically, it is a wonderful cosy mystery with a cast of interesting people, twists and turns, and a few good laughs!

I do so enjoy Jessica Ellicott’s writing, I am looking forward to the next in the series! It’s a four out of five on the enJOYment scale and highly recommended.
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Set in the sleepy English village of Walmsley Parva, Murder Through the English Post is my first book by author Jessica Ellicott though it is the sixth in the series. It features Beryl Helliwell, an adventuress who went to finishing school with Edwina. Edwina Davenport is a newly appointed magistrate, whose first case is two young men involved in a brawl and this is linked to residents receiving poison pen letters. The duo, who have the Davenport & Helliwell Private Enquiry Agency, don their sleuthing hats when a neighbour dies. A gentle, though nevertheless compelling read with fabulous characters. I will no doubt be picking up this series from the beginning, time permitting!

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott is a Beryl and Edwina book and is a traditionally English cozy mystery. Edwina has just taken on the additional responsibility of being the town magistrate and in her first day on the bench is faced with the dilemma of two friends engaging in fisticuffs on the public street, with the additional result of one of them hitting the constable who had been trying to break them up. When Edwina delved further she discovered someone had sent a poisoned pen letter accusing one of being really unkind (and untrue)about the other. The odd thing as the letter, which was made up of words and letters cut from publications and glued to the sheet of paper. The men shook and the constable let the punch she took go, but Edwina was very nervous about what was happening in the village, especially when she went home and discovered that Beryl had received a letter as well. Then, as the days wore on, others were discovered, some with dire results. 

Beryl and Edwina are two ladies, past the first bloom of youth, who are living in Edwina’s manor house, along with Simpkins, the gardener. Simpkins had recently inherited a fortune as well as a major food distribution company and had relieved many of the money worries Edwina had struggled with for years, mostly after paying death duties for her parents. Beryl was an adventuress who had gone to school with Edwina and landed here somewhat recently. They found the arrangement suited them both. Lovely ladies, different, but compatible. Their inquiry agent business was still in the beginning stages but growing apace. It is a fun partnership investigating interesting mysteries in this small English village. Enjoyable, relaxing reading. 

I was invited to read a free e-ARC of Murder Through the English Post by Kensington Books, through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #netgalley #kensington #jessicaellicott #murderthroughtheenglishpost
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Murder Through The English Post is the sixth book in the Beryl And Edwina Mystery series by Jessica Ellicott.

I enjoy visiting Walmsley Parva, and this visit is no exception.  Edwina has recently been appointed magistrate for Walmsley Parva.  While Beryl is getting used to a quieter life, she is also learning not to try and help their housekeeper.

Edwina’s first case as the magistrate involves two young men who got into a fight. One got an anonymous letter saying the other had made terrible accusations about him, thus leading to a brawl.  Soon many other residents begin receiving these “poison pen letters”.  Like Beryl, most who received a letter chose to ignore them.  Beryl’s letter questions the living arrangement with Edwina and Mr. Simpkins.  One lady has attempted suicide, and another lady’s death has been attributed to an asthma attack.  Beryl and Edwina begin to wonder if the letter she received could have caused her asthma attack.

Surprisingly, Constable Doris Gibbs is starting to mellow a bit and asks Beryl and Edwina to help investigate who might be sending the poison pen letters.  Beryl and Edwina will discreetly ask residents if they had received a letter and what it said, hoping that something will direct them to the writer.

Also, Mr. Simpkins, through his condiments company, will be introducing convenient foods for the working woman.  Simpkins would like Beryl and Edwins to provide recommendations for his new line of food products and allow their images to be on the tins.  Beryl is all for it but thinks it might take some convincing Edwina.

I love this series. The books are well-written, plotted, and the author skillfully describes Walmsley Parva. The book has a wonderful cast of characters. I would consider them my friend.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this enjoyable series.
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There is a Poison Pen causing havoc in the village, reminiscent of Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger.  (One of my personal favorites.) Don't let that fool you as Jessica Ellicott has her own twists and turns.
Edwina becomes aware of the anonymous letters in her first session as magistrate the same time Beryl is receiving one addressed to herself.  They are worried that the letters may cause more harm than the fist fight outside the pub.  As they try to find more people who will admit to getting a letter and trying to soothe their feelings and prove the vicious lies are just that, someone dies.
The letters continue but seem to become more pointing out wrongdoing rather than just stirring the pot.  Finally, a garden catalog gives Edwina just the insight needed to find the perpetrator.
Beautifully done "between the wars" detective fiction worthy of the Golden Age.
I am enjoying the character development of Edwina and Beryl as well as  Simpkins, Beddoes, and Charles.
This book could be read on its own, but is even better if you have read the previous books.
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I appreciate the publisher allowing me to read this book.. This is a great read, the mystery was interesting and the characters engaging. loved it.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing Corp. for this opportunity to review “Murder Through the English Post.” All opinions and comments are my own.

Beryl Helliwell, the explorer half of our duo, is bored.  Edwina Davenport, shy underwhelming Edwina however has been transformed as the series progresses (this is book #6).  She’s the new village magistrate, while Beryl, globe-trotting Beryl, is at sixes and sevens.  Luckily, Simpkins, their housemate comes up with a task for her to do.  Picking plums on a farm that he owns.  That’ll do for a while, probably.  She’s becoming more and more accustomed to the country life here in Warmsley Parva.  However -- time for a crime or two to brighten up the day!  

Luckily, our author, Jessica Ellicott, has something in mind.  Who is sending the poison pen letters to all and sundry in the little village?  The ones that are completely, utterly untrue, to boot?  Beryl gets one, and she laughs it off.  But when their housekeeper Beddoes receives a letter, well, that does it.  Time to get involved; even Constable Gibbs agrees.  These kinds of letters can cause untold trouble in a tiny place like their village.

Oh, and there’s are side stories, as there always are.  Our man Simpkins and his condiments food company needs some “faces” for his innovative campaign of “convenience foods” for the “modern working woman.”  Guess who fills that bill?  You got it.  Readers will see how Edwina comes to enjoy this side of her personality, too, in this and also in her role as magistrate.  And one mustn’t forget how Beryl is changing.  Ms. Ellicott does a very good job of describing how she is becoming a rather “new Beryl,” more in tune with a quieter life.  

The letters continue to go out.  One recipient attempts suicide.  And then another dies, from an asthma attack.  Did distress from the letter bring on the attack?  And all of a sudden, it’s apparent that some of the letters are telling the truth.  And so now are we looking at someone killing to keep uncomfortable facts hidden?

I should also mention the “women are growing and getting stronger” scenes that the author has included as part of one of the side stories, which also leads to finding out a bit more of Beryl’s younger life.  That’s never a bad thing.

“Murder Through the English Post” highlights the thorough detective work of the two “useful and respected associates,” as Edwina calls the two of them now.  Their increasing experience in that area leads to a simple clue.  Which leads Edwina to the full and complete story, and the unmasking of a murderer.  How unassuming and yet complex does Jessica Ellicott make it for us, and thus, a solid entry in the series.
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It is always enjoyable spending time with Edwina and Beryl in Walmsley Parva and every adventure with them is much anticipated.  Book 6 in the series finds Edwina having taken up her post as village magistrate and Beryl at loose ends, beginning to miss her prior life.  Things in the village seem quite staid until Edwina, on her first day as magistrate, must deal with a case involving a poison pen letter.  Unfortunately, more letters appear in the village, with Beryl receiving one of her own questioning she and Edwina's living arrangements with gardener Simpkins.  Edwina is convinced there is something very wrong in the village, as letters continue to appear, some being specifically written to create trouble, while others reveal truths about the recipients.  Eventually a murder does occur and through careful piecing together of the clues, Edwina is able to discern who the rather surprising culprit is.

The mystery alone makes this an excellent book.  However, add the rapport between Edwina and Beryl, the other eclectic residents of Walmsley Parva, Simpkins' venture into 'convenience foods,' Beryl's restlessness, and Edwina's progress towards writing her western novel, and you find that Murder Through the English Post is a delight to read, engaging and entertaining to the very end.  This book, and the entire series, is one to read, get lost in, and savor in the process.  I will very much look forward to the next installments in this series.
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A cute England-set cozy in a small town that seems to be quite popular among the Brits with shows like Midsommar Murders. Apparently getting murdered in the English countryside is a big problem per their literature.

This one is set in post-World War II England, an unlikely pair of friends who solve murders - one American and one British. They have apparently won over the constable with their investigative skills and are tasked with solving who is sending poisoned pen letters, and in turn killing people. 

This was a fun way to while away an afternoon, though I am not sure I would read the other five books in the series right away.
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I had never heard of this series before I requested a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

I found it an OK read, the mystery portion kept my interest.  It may have been better if I had read the other 5 because I would have been more invested in the characters.  I found the three main characters, who live together, to not be very interesting.  Not much chemistry.  The new reader is given enough information to have a basic idea of who the characters are and how they came to live together.
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I think this is one of the best historical cozy series and it could be classified as "new golden age" in this case
New Golden Age is a type of traditional mystery that is inspired by the classic age of mysteries.
This novel is light mystery that deals with very serious topics like poison pen and how the social relationship in a village can be affected by malice.
Edwin and Beryl are fleshed out and relatable as usual but there's a more sombre tone and some important changes.
I liked how we get to know more about Beryl past and how she dealt with abusive men.
We learn something more about Edwina as well.
As for the mystery is complex and multilayered: there's a main plot, the poison letter, and there's the single stories usually related to the aftermath of WWI
The solution came as a surprise and the plot kept me guessing.
Even if it may sound a very serious story I had a lot of fun in reading this book and appreciated all the nuances and the style of writing.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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