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“Emily Brightwell continues to brighten the well-being of

her fans with entertaining mysteries.”

— Midwest Book Review

“It’s murder most English all the way!”

— The Literary Times



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

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

Visit Emily Brightwell’s website at

Also available from Prime Crime:

the first three Mrs. Jeffries mysteries in one volume

Mrs. Jeffries Learns the Trade


and the






Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr. Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


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

Copyright © 2005 by Cheryl Arguile.

Interior text design by Stacy Irwin.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 1-4362-7249-1


Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) 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 Group (USA) Inc.

In loving memory of Robert Eugene Lanham

C H A P T E R 1

�� ��

�� ��

“It’s not my fault the cat has gone missing,” Nina Braxton

said to her sisters. “I don’t know why Father always assumes

that everything that goes amiss in this house is my responsibility. I’ve nothing to do with the wretched animal.” She put the copy of the Financial Times she’d been reading down

on the table and stood up. Nina was a woman of medium

height and frame. Her eyes were blue, her complexion pale,

her features ordinary, and there were a few strands of gray in

her light brown hair. She glanced around the small drawing

room, staring at her two sisters as they finished their morning coffee.

Lucinda Braxton, the oldest of Sir George Braxton’s three

daughters, shrugged her shoulders. “None of us have anything to do with the beast,” she said. “And personally, I don’t care if the stupid creature ever turns up. But I suspect

it’s in all our interests to make sure he does.” She glanced at



Emily Brightwell

the third woman in the room. Charlotte Braxton, the middle sister, was reading a novel and appeared to be taking no notice of the conversation. “Father will want to know if

you’ve seen Samson,” Lucinda said, raising her voice to get

Charlotte’s attention.

Charlotte sighed and put down her book. She had more

than a few strands of gray in her dark auburn hair, and there

were fine lines around her brown eyes. She was a bit shorter

and heavier than her younger sister, but not as short or

heavy as Lucinda. “This is becoming tiresome. I’ve already

told you, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the stupid cat. Have

you asked Mrs. Merryhill or either of our houseguests?”

“Of course I’ve asked Mrs. Merryhill,” Lucinda snapped.

“She hasn’t seen him, and neither have any of the other servants. Father had them out searching this morning at the crack of dawn. I don’t care if you find this tiresome or not,

I’ll not have Raleigh disturbed over this matter because you

don’t want to get your nose out of a book long enough to

discuss it properly.”

“Have you spoken to cousin Fiona?” Nina interjected.

“Perhaps she’s seen Samson.”

Lucinda glared at her sister. The question sounded quite

reasonable, but she knew Nina was being malicious in

bringing Fiona into the conversation. “You know very well I

haven’t spoken to Fiona. I’ve no idea why she’s even here. I

certainly didn’t invite her to spend Christmas with us.”

“Father did,” Charlotte snickered, “and you really ought

to be nicer to her. You’ve barely spoken to her since she got


“If I’d had my way, she’d not be here at all,” Lucinda

cried. “I don’t know why Father insisted on inviting her this

year. It’s not as if he’s overly fond of her.”

“Father isn’t overly fond of anyone,” Charlotte said softly.

Mrs. Jeffries and the Silent Knight


“Not even us.” She picked her novel up and commenced

reading again.

“Put down that book,” Lucinda ordered. “We’ve got

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