Mrs Jeffries and the Feast of St Stephen

Written by Emily Brightwell
Review by Patrika Salmon

As described by the publisher, Mrs Jeffries is the Miss Marple of Victorian mystery. Based on this, I was keen to read the novel, but alas nothing cunning and confusingly complex about the plot can be found here, nor was the acquired knowledge and razor-keen mind of an intelligent woman present either. I missed those acerbic asides and ironic comments. Why will publishers do this comparison business? Any real Miss Marple fan is bound to be disappointed.

The series is about is a group of household servants, led by the housekeeper, Mrs Jeffries, helping out their master, Inspector Witherspoon. However, they do it without his knowledge and have to hint and nudge him into seeing or understanding what they find.

In this novel, a Christmas season poisoning threatens to wreck everyone’s Christmas. The book is, in itself, a pleasant light read, though definitely an American idea of what might happen below stairs in a London kitchen and the servants’ quarters. And it is a shame that in her 23rd novel the author makes basic errors; napkins versus serviettes and a Wensleydale cheese from Somerset are just two.