Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mrs. Pargeter's Principle (Mrs. Pargeter #7)

Author:  Simon Brett
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; ebook
ISBN #:  9781780290744
Creme de la Crime; First World Publication edition
192 Pages
$21.11 Hardcover Amazon; $20.05 Kindle
August 1, 2015

Five Stars

For Mrs. Pargeter, it is a matter of principle that she should complete any of her late husband's unfinished business.  Amongst the many bequests he made to her, perhaps the most valuable is his little black book, in which he listed all the people who ever worked for him, with details of their particular skill sets.  This means that whenever Mrs. P has a crime to solve she can readily contact someone with the relevant expertise to help her in her enquiries.

Attending the funeral of the rich and respected Sir Normington Winthrop, because his is one of the names in the little black book, Mrs. Pargeter sets out to discover the connection between Sir Normington and her late husband.  Her investigations will draw her into a shady world of gun-runners, shifty politicians - and a kidnapped vicar.


Mrs. Pargeter, her friends Gary, her chauffeur, and Truffler Mason, owner of a detective agency, are attending the funeral of one of her late husband's former employee, Sir Normington Winthrop.  Not because she knew the man, but because he was listed in the little black book Mr. P willed to her, and Mrs. P thought it was the right thing to do.

While there, she is approached by a man named Edmund Grainger who warns her to stay away from Winthrop's widow, Helena.  Mrs. Pargeter refuses to be cowed by the man but takes her friends and leaves, stating 'not to be where she isn't wanted.'  However, she is now curious as to why she was being warned off, and decides to find out.

But before she can begin her investigation, she needs to meet with more of the people in the little black book, 'Gizmo' Gilbert, whom she has learned has fallen on hard times...and Samantha Pinkerton, whose father has recently died (another employee) and wants to marry her boyfriend Kelvin, but doesn't approve of what he does for a living "he's a criminal," she tells Mrs. P;...and Erin Jarvis, the daughter of another deceased employee.

She proceeds to help out Gizmo without his knowledge; assure Samantha of a glorious wedding that won't cost her anything, including providing the vicar, and ask Erin to help her find information on the elusive past of Normington Winthrop - for it seems, aside from a first page in the little black book, there appears to be very little other information to go on.  And since she was approached by Edmund Grainger, she becomes very curious indeed.

When she meets another former employee, a vicar by the name of 'Holy' Smirke, and asks him to officiate at the wedding, she also asks him about his early days with her husband.  Yet he has another appointment who has just arrived to meet him, and requests she call him later and they will discuss it.   But when she calls, the vicar has disappeared; and it appears from a witness nearby that he has been kidnapped.  Now Mrs. P, with the help of Truffler and Gary (also former employees), is determined to find her vicar in time for the wedding in three weeks.

And here we have a very detailed plot, which is quite a bit of fun to read.  It seems that Mr. Pargeter was more than just the philanthropist Mrs. Pargeter says he was, yet when we are given bits and pieces of stories about his past, Mrs. P pretends not to understand what anyone is talking about, and the subject is immediately changed.  The book is filled with colorful characters with just as colorful names, and they all seem to have a certain set of specialized skills - skills that Mrs. P. calls upon, and they are happy to provide, having a great fondness for their late employer and his widow. 

And as she gets closer to finding information about the late Sir Winthrop, greater steps are taken by Mr. Grainger to ensure she does not.

We soon find out that all these subplots are connected somehow, and trust me when I say that blending them all together is a masterpiece of sheer delight.  I can only imagine what an interesting life Mr. and Mrs. Pargeter must have led, and Mrs. P carrying on for him as best she can.  Highly recommended.

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