Murder Cuts the Mustard
Beryl and Edwina Mystery #3
By Jessica Ellicott
Author’s website: jessicaellicott.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
In the lean years
following World War I, brash American adventuress Beryl Halliwell and prim and
proper Brit Edwina Davenport form a private inquiry agency to make ends meet,
hoping that crime does indeed pay . . .
The latest occurrence to disturb the peace in the quaint English village of Walmsley Parva hits rather too close to home–in fact, the prime suspect has taken up residence in Edwina’s potting shed. Her elderly gardener Simpkins has been secretly sleeping there after a row with his disreputable brother-in-law and housemate, Hector Lomax.
When Hector is found murdered in the local churchyard, Constable Gibbs comes looking for Simpkins, who was last seen arguing with his kin in the pub the night before. Based on the sad state of her garden, Edwina has grave doubts that the shiftless Simpkins could muster the effort to murder anyone. The two sleuths throw themselves into weeding out suspects and rooting out the real killer.
But this is no garden variety murder. The discovery of a valuable ring, a surprise connection to Colonel Kimberly’s Condiment Company, and a second homicide all force Beryl and Edwina to play catch-up as they relish the chance to contain the culprit.
This charming third mystery featuring adventuress Beryl and her old school friend Edwina find the odd-couple sleuths in the midst of yet another murder investigation when Edwina’s gardener’s deadbeat brother-in-law is killed and Simkins is a suspect. When the village drunk is arrested, Beryl and Edwina hone their investigative skills to unearth the real killer.
I think Beryl and Edwina make a great sleuthing team. They could not be any more different from each other, but each woman’s strengths balance out the other’s weaknesses. The English village setting is perfect for the cozy mystery genre, and though the story takes place in the uncertain years following World War I, the tone is lighthearted and the book easy to read. It can be read as a standalone, but readers do get a better understanding of the characters and their circumstances if they begin reading the series with book one.
The murder mystery is well thought out, and there is a subplot, also concerning Simkins, that initially seems odd but plays out to set up some potential changes for Beryl and Edwina in future books. There are plenty of suspects to choose from, and a few red herrings to keep readers guessing. I did not figure out the killer’s identity until very late in the tale. The story does lag a bit in the middle but quickly regains its footing.
Murder Cuts the Mustard is entertaining and endearing. It hits all of the cozy mystery high points. Recommended to any historical or cozy mystery reader.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*