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Authors: Emily Brightwell

Mrs. Jeffries Weeds the Plot

BOOK: Mrs. Jeffries Weeds the Plot
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INSPECTOR WITHERSPOON ALWAYS TRIUMPHS…
HOW DOES HE DO IT?

Even the inspector himself doesn’t know—because his secret weapon is as ladylike as she is clever. She’s Mrs. Jeffries—the determined, delightful detective who stars in this unique Victorian mystery series! Be sure to read them all…

The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries

A doctor is found dead in his own office—and Mrs. Jeffries must scour the premises to find the prescription for murder!

Mrs. Jeffries Dusts for Clues

One case is solved and another is opened when the inspector finds a missing brooch—pinned to a dead woman’s gown. But Mrs. Jeffries never cleans a room without dusting under the bed—and never gives up on a case before every loose end is tightly tied…

The Ghost and Mrs. Jeffries

Death is unpredictable…but the murder of Mrs. Hodges was foreseen at a spooky séance. The practical-minded housekeeper may not be able to see the future—but she can look into the past and put things in order to solve this haunting crime!

Mrs. Jeffries Takes Stock

A businessman has been murdered—and it could be because he cheated his stockholders. The housekeeper’s interest is piqued…and when it comes to catching killers, the smart money’s on Mrs. Jeffries!

Mrs. Jeffries on the Ball

A festive jubilee turns into a fatal affair—and Mrs. Jeffries must find the guilty party…

Mrs. Jeffries on the Trail

Why was Annie Shields out selling flowers so late on a foggy night? And more importantly, who killed her while she was doing it? It’s up to Mrs. Jeffries to sniff out the clues…

Mrs. Jeffries Plays the Cook

Mrs. Jeffries finds herself doing double duty: cooking for the Inspector’s household and trying to cook a killer’s goose…

Mrs. Jeffries and the Missing Alibi

When Inspector Witherspoon becomes the main suspect in a murder, Scotland Yard refuses to let him investigate. But no one said anything about Mrs. Jeffries…

Mrs. Jeffries Stands Corrected

When a local publican is murdered, and Inspector Witherspoon botches the investigation, trouble starts to brew for Mrs. Jeffries…

Mrs. Jeffries Takes the Stage

After a theatre critic is murdered, Mrs. Jeffries uncovers the victim’s secret past: a real-life drama more compelling than any stage play…

Mrs. Jeffries Questions the Answer

Hannah Cameron was not well-liked. But were her friends or family the sort to stab her in the back? Mrs. Jeffries must really tiptoe around this time—or it could be a matter of life and death…

Mrs. Jeffries Reveals Her Art

Mrs. Jeffries has to work double-time to find a missing model
and
a killer. And she’ll have to get her whole staff involved—before someone else becomes the next subject…

Mrs. Jeffries Takes the Cake

The evidence was all there: a dead body, two dessert plates, and a gun. As if Mr. Ashbury had been sharing cake with his own killer! Now Mrs. Jeffries will have to do some snooping around—to dish up clues…

Mrs. Jeffries Rocks the Boat

Mirabelle had traveled by boat all the way from Australia to visit her sister—only to wind up murdered. Now Mrs. Jeffries must solve the case—and it’s sink or swim!

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Emily Brightwell

THE INSPECTOR AND MRS. JEFFRIES

MRS. JEFFRIES DUSTS FOR CLUES

THE GHOST AND MRS. JEFFRIES

MRS. JEFFRIES TAKES STOCK

MRS. JEFFRIES ON THE BALL

MRS. JEFFRIES ON THE TRAIL

MRS. JEFFRIES PLAYS THE COOK

MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE MISSING ALIBI

MRS. JEFFRIES STANDS CORRECTED

MRS. JEFFRIES TAKES THE STAGE

MRS. JEFFRIES QUESTIONS THE ANSWER

MRS. JEFFRIES REVEALS HER ART

MRS. JEFFRIES TAKES THE CAKE

MRS. JEFFRIES ROCKS THE BOAT

MRS. JEFFRIES WEEDS THE PLOT

MRS. JEFFRIES PINCHES THE POST

MRS. JEFFRIES PLEADS HER CASE

MRS. JEFFRIES SWEEPS THE CHIMNEY

MRS. JEFFRIES STALKS THE HUNTER

MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE SILENT KNIGHT

MRS. JEFFRIES APPEALS THE VERDICT

MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE BEST LAID PLANS

MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE FEAST OF ST. STEPHEN

MRS. JEFFRIES HOLDS THE TRUMP

MRS. JEFFRIES IN THE NICK OF TIME

MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE YULETIDE WEDDINGS

MRS. JEFFRIES SPEAKS HER MIND

MRS. JEFFRIES FORGES AHEAD

MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE MISTLETOE MIX-UP

MRS. JEFFRIES DEFENDS HER OWN

Anthologies

MRS. JEFFRIES LEARNS THE TRADE

MRS. JEFFRIES TAKES A SECOND LOOK

MRS.

JEFFRIES

WEEDS THE PLOT

E
MILY
B
RIGHTWELL

BERKLEY PRIME CRIME, NEW YORK

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are
either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously,
and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

MRS. JEFFRIES WEEDS THE PLOT

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

PRINTING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime edition / November 2000

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2000 by Cheryl Arguile.

This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part,
by mimeograph or any other means, without permission.
For information address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

Emily Brightwell World Wide Web site address is
http://www.emilybrightwell.com

http://penguin.com

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-64501-7

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published
by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Putnam Inc.

Version_1

To Ann Ruggles,
with my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for
answering all my questions about dogs.

And to Oreo, Abby, and Clancy,
with thanks for the great stories
and the good laughs.

Table of Contents

How Does He Do It?

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

CHAPTER 1

“Really, I honestly don’t know why Louisa won’t believe me. I’m not making it up,” Annabeth Gentry said to her maid. She was an attractive, blond woman in her late thirties. Her eyes were bright blue and she possessed a cheerful disposition and, usually, a ready smile. She wasn’t smiling now.

“Of course you’re not making it up, ma’am,” her maid, Martha Dowling, replied. She put the tray she’d been carrying down on a table by the window and poured her mistress a cup of tea.

“I’m not usually in the habit of telling tales, am I?” Annabeth got up and began to pace the small sitting room.

“No, ma’am. Did Mrs. Cooksey actually say she thought you was lyin’?” Martha asked.

Annabeth stopped in front of the fireplace. “She didn’t
come right out and accuse me of making it up, but I could tell by the expression on her face that she didn’t take my concerns seriously.” Her shoulders slumped. “She thinks I’m getting fanciful. She said that unmarried women get funny ideas in their heads when they get to be my age.”

“That’s the silliest bit of nonsense I’ve ever heard,” Martha snorted, handing the tea to her mistress. “You’re one of the most sensible people I’ve ever met.” She wasn’t at all afraid of being reprimanded for her bluntness. Unlike most women of her class, Miss Gentry wasn’t one to get annoyed over an honest answer.

“But it wasn’t just Louisa,” Annabeth wailed. She put the tea down on the mantel and began pacing again. “It was Reverend Cooksey, too. Now that the fuss about Miranda finding that body has died down, he thinks I miss being the center of attention.”

“That’s even sillier than Mrs. Cooksey’s notion that you’re getting strange fancies. It weren’t your fault Miranda dug up that corpse. You didn’t ask all them newspapers to interview you and put your name in the papers.” Martha shook her head in disgust. She thought both the Cookseys fools. “I don’t mean to be steppin’ out of my place, ma’am, but you need help. You’ve almost been run down by a carriage, clouted on the head with a load of flyin’ bricks, and someone’s even tried to poison you. And that’s just been in the last two weeks. You can’t go on like this, ma’am. Whoever’s doin’ all this is goin’ to get lucky soon and you’re goin’ to end up pushing up daisies.”

“You believe me, then?” Annabeth asked quietly. “You don’t think I’m making things up to get attention or that it’s all my imagination?”

“Of course I believe you, ma’am,” Martha replied. “I was there when them bricks come topplin’ off the top of the garden wall and I was there when poor Miranda
keeled over after she ate part of your scone. Good thing she didn’t take more than a bite or she’d be a goner.”

Annabeth shuddered. “That was a dreadful day.” She glanced at the bloodhound. Miranda was lying in a shaft of sunlight streaming in through the lace curtains, enjoying the warm September sunshine.

“You’ll not get any argument from me, ma’am. Pardon the expression, but poor Miranda was as sick as a dog. Of course, she
is
a dog, but she did look pitiful.”

Hearing her name bandied about, Miranda raised her head and looked at the two women.

“We’ve got to do something, ma’am,” Martha continued earnestly, “and we must do it quickly.”

“You think I ought to go to the police?” Annabeth picked up her teacup and took a quick sip.

“That’ll not do any good without proof, ma’am. If your own family won’t believe you, you don’t have much chance of convincin’ the coppers.”

“Then I don’t see what I can do.” Annabeth sighed heavily. “It’s hopeless. I was so looking forward to moving into my new home, too. Now it appears as if I ought to move away, far away. Then maybe whoever is trying to kill me will give up.”

Martha, being from a far less protected class than Miss Gentry, knew better than that. “’Course they won’t, they’ll just follow you. Mark my words, ma’am, if someone’s wantin’ to do you in, they’ll only stop if you’re six feet under or if you catch ’em first.”

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