Murder Cuts the Mustard (A Beryl and Edwina Mystery)

Written by Jessica Ellicott
Review by Valerie Adolph

This third mystery in the Beryl and Edwina series finds this unlikely duo investigating the murder of Hector Lomax, the unpleasant brother in law of Edwina’s gardener. But Simpkins the gardener is not the only person in this English village of Walmsley Parva to hold a grudge against Hector. Beryl and Edwina are retained to solve the murder by their young paper boy Jack Prentice whose father Frank is still affected by his experiences fighting in World War One. Frank, alcoholic and unable to work consistently, is in jail accused of murdering Hector.

Edwina and Beryl throw themselves into the task of finding the real killer, convinced that neither Simpkins nor Frank Prentice have the initiative to commit the murder. But while they investigate the various residents of Walmsley Parva news arrives that the shiftless gardener Simpkins has been named as primary heir to Colonel Kimberly and to the successful Colonel Kimberley’s Condiment Company. It is a fortune almost too large to contemplate but it brings with it complications, including another murder.

Beryl and Edwina join the ranks of fictional women investigating murders in English villages with the slight difference that Beryl is from the United States and is not a great fan of tea or knitting. That said, the differences in idiom between the American woman and the English woman are not clearly defined, and Edwina’s internal dialogue often sounds more mid-Atlantic than English village. In my opinion this story and its plots, subplots and characters do not live up to the novel’s cute title and attractive cover design.