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Authors: Emily Brightwell

Mrs. Jeffries Takes the Cake

BOOK: Mrs. Jeffries Takes the Cake
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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 seance. 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 celebration 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…

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

TAKES THE CAKE

E
MILY
B
RIGHTWELL

BERKLEY PRIME CRIME, NEW YORK

MRS. JEFFRIES TAKES THE CAKE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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.

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

PRINTING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime edition / October 1998

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1998 by The Berkley Publishing Group.

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 member of Penguin Putnam Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

penguin.com

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-64496-6

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published

by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a member of Penguin Putnam Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks belonging to Berkley Publishing Corporation.

Version_1

MRS. JEFFRIES

TAKES THE CAKE

Table of Contents

How Does He Do it?

Also by Emily Brightwell

Title Page

Copyright

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

CHAPTER 1

Maisie Donovan pulled the heavy trunk up the last two stairs and heaved a sigh of relief that she’d got the ruddy box this far. She gave the thing a vicious kick and then plopped down on the top of the flat lid to catch her breath. Only one more flight to go, she told herself. Too bad that wretched boy had taken it into his head to run off; by rights this should have been his job, lugging the mistress’s trunk up to her room. But the household had awoken this morning to find Boyd gone and she’d got stuck with the job. Sighing, Maisie rose to her feet. She’d better push on. They’d be here any minute now and she didn’t want to get caught sitting on the landing.

In the fading evening light, the landing was so dark as to be almost black. Perhaps that’s what caught Maisie’s eye—the streak of light seeping out of Mr. Ashbury’s door. Blast. She swore softly and fluently to herself. Now, why was he home? “What’s that old tattletale doin’
here?” she muttered. She wondered if he’d heard her kicking the truck.

Maisie didn’t think she’d get the sack, not after Boyd’s runnin’ off like that. But she wasn’t sure. Mr. Frommer could be a right old tartar. Breaking the silliest rule could find you out on the street, she thought, remembering what had happened to Emma only a few days before the household had gone to Ascot. Poor girl had been sacked over a ruddy flowerpot. Blast. It’d be just like that old Ashbury to pretend he wasn’t here and then tell the master he’d heard her kickin’ their precious trunk. Well, she wasn’t having it. She wasn’t going to spend the next few hours or even days wondering if the ax was going to fall. She glared at the doorway and then, when she heard nothing, boldly decided to take matters into her own hands. Maybe Mr. Ashbury hadn’t come in yet.

“Mr. Ashbury?” she said softly as she pushed the door open. “Are you in here, sir?”

There was no answer.

She stepped inside and gazed sharply around the spacious sitting room. Empty. But he’d been here.

The heavy curtains were wide open, letting in the last rays of the fading sun. A fully loaded tea trolley stood next to his favorite balloon-backed chair. Bloomin’ odd, she thought stepping farther into the room. She could see that the door to the connecting bedroom stood open and the top of the spread was rumpled. “Mr. Ashbury, sir. Are ya here?”

No one replied.

The hair on the back of Maisie’s neck stood up. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Tentatively she took a step closer to the tea trolley. “Mr. Ashbury?”

Silence.

“Oh, this is stupid,” she muttered, more to give herself
courage than for anything else. The back of Mr. Ashbury’s chair faced the door. Maisie walked over to it and peeked around the edge. She gasped in surprise. The old man himself was sitting there, staring straight at her.

“Oh, I’m sorry sir,” she began as she backed away. “I didn’t realize you was in here.”

He said nothing; he merely gazed at her out of his pale, washed-out hazel eyes.

“I thought there might be something amiss, sir,” she explained, “when I saw the door open a crack, sir. I mean, we didn’t think you were due home till tonight, sir.”

He continued to stare at her.

Maisie stopped. She realized he hadn’t so much as blinked. She walked back across the room and knelt right in front of him.

He didn’t move a muscle.

She waved her hand in front of his eyes.

He didn’t blink.

Relieved, she sighed. At least he wouldn’t be running to Mr. Frommer telling tales now. “Old blighter’s kicked off,” she murmured. Death was no stranger to Maisie. She’d buried both her parents and three brothers by the time she was fourteen. Matter-of-factly she reached over to close Mr. Ashbury’s eyes. Not because she liked him, but out of respect for the dead in general. As she touched him he toppled to one side.

It was only then that Maisie saw the blood on the back of the chair and the gaping hole in the side of the man’s skull.

BOOK: Mrs. Jeffries Takes the Cake
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