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5.0 out of 5 starsWinner number 3
Reviewed in the United States on November 1, 2020
Edwina and Beryl are at it again. This most unlikely pair of sleuths take on a small invasion of Walmsley Parma endangering their gardener, Simpkins. Though Simpkins isn’t much of a gardener, he is a good man and they want to protect him and his newly learned of inheritance. Edwin and Beryl soon learn that a small English village is no stranger to drinking, gambling, sex,and babies born on the wrong side of the blanket, along with a lot of real love and loyalty. A real page turner. Enjoy 1921.
Murder Cuts The Mustard is the third book in the Beryl and Edwina Mystery series.
This is one of my favorite series set shortly after WWI in the quaint little village of Walmsley Parva. Beryl and Edwina have known each other since childhood and have recently met again with Beryl stopping in Walmsley Parva and meets up once again with Edwina. After solving their first murder, Beryl suggests that they start a private inquiry agency. Edwina being a private person has her doubts, but Beryl is finally able to convince her. At first glance, Beryl and Edwina might seem an unlikely duo, Beryl being a free-spirit and Edwina is one to follow the life most women followed during the years following the war. But they end up being a very effective duo.
The story begins with Edwina’s, less than energetic gardener, Simpkins, engaged in an argument with his brother-in-law, Hector Lomax. The disagreement is over Simpkins late wife’s wedding ring that Simpkins claims Lomax has stolen. The next morning the body of Lomax is found in the graveyard next to the church. Simpkins becomes the prime suspect until Constable Gibbs learns that Frank Prentice was found, intoxicated, near where the Lomax body was discovered and who had also had an argument with Lomax the previous evening. Jack Prentice, Frank’s boy, comes to Beryl and Edwina asks to hire them to find evidence to clear his father’s name. Jack is their newspaper boy and runs errands for Edwina and Beryl and they agree to try and find Lomax’s killer.
A subplot to the story centers on Simpkins. Edwina and Beryl become concerned when a solicitor from London arrives in town wanting to speak with Simpkins. Their fears are put to rest when they learn that Simpkins has received a rather large inheritance and is now a man of means. Simpkins has been left the controlling interest in Colonel Kimberly’s Condiment Company by Colonel Kimberly. Simpkins is aware of the company’s product but has no idea as to Colonel Kimberly is.
Ms. Ellicott once again provides us with a well-written and plotted story with enough red herring to have kept me guessing until the end. She also provides us with an interesting cast of supporting characters, in addition to the wonderful Edwina and Beryl.
I very much looking forward to the next book in this very enjoyable series.
3.5 stars MURDE CUTS THE MUSTARD is the entertaining third book in the post-World War I era series featuring former adventuress Beryl and her finishing school chum Edwina. This time around Edwina’s gardener becomes the prime suspect in his ne’er do well brother-in-law’s murder. Beryl and Edwina put on their investigative thinking caps to clear his and another villager’s names and unmask the real killer, all while the body count continues to rise.
I enjoy historical mysteries so Beryl and Edwina adventures are right up my alley. The 1921 setting highlights the changing British society still dealing with the ramifications of WWI. Don’t get me wrong, though, it sticks to the light hearted cozy standard with a quaint village setting, endearing characters, and “off screen” violence. Beryl and Edwina could not be more different from one another, and they balance each other well. The supporting characters are not quite as likable, but that is intentional. After all, murder suspects need not be nice.
In addition to the main murder mystery, there is a subplot dealing with an unexpected windfall that seems odd at first but plays out well in the end of the tale setting up a potential twist for future books. The pace is somewhat slow yet steady throughout. I did not figure out whodunit until close to the end.
Overall, MURDER CUTS THE MUSTARD is a charming, fun escapade. Recommended to fans of historical and cozy mysteries.
I received an ARC of this title through NetGalley from Kensington Publishers and voluntarily shared my thoughts here.
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.