Murder Cuts the Mustard
In the lean years following World War I, brash American adventuress Beryl Helliwell 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 . . .
At the start of Ellicott's delightful third whodunit set in post-WWI England (after 2018's Murder Flies the Coop), Albert Simpkins, who does a little gardening work for prim and proper Edwina Davenport, has an argument with his brother-in-law, Hector Lomax, at a pub in the sleepy village of Walmsley Parva. The next day, Constable Gibbs arrives at Edwina's house and asks to see Simpkins, who has been living in her potting shed. Gibbs wants to question Simpkins about the murder of Hector, who's been found in the churchyard with his head bashed in. Edwina and her brash American friend, Beryl Helliwell, who have recently formed an investigative agency, set out to clear Simpkins's name. The two women keep several steps ahead of Gibbs as they discover that no one in Walmsley Parva is a bit sorry about Hector's untimely demise. Insights into the English class system of the day lend some depth to this light historical mystery. Witty prose, distinctive characters, and an enchanting setting all make for a winner.