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Mystery Monday Review – Daughters in Law

Daughters in Law by Henry Cecil


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


Retired army major Claude Buttonstep comes from a long line of losing litigants. He accordingly detests lawyers and judges. His two sons, justifiably, worry about breaking the news that they have fallen in love with twin sisters Jane and Prunella. The brothers fret that their lady-loves being kind, intelligent, and attractive will fail to balance the fact that Prunella is a barrister and Jane a solicitor.


Provoking a legal crisis is Mr. Trotter, a new neighbor. He borrows the major’s power mower – a high end item in the Fifties in England. Trotter refuses to return it despite the major’s increasingly heated demands.  Against his instinct, the major goes to law. Jane and Prunella take up the cudgels in order to get in good with their prospective father-in-law.


If this mystery sounds all homey and fluffy, that’s because it most definitely is domestic and light. After all, not for nothing is author Henry Cecil listed on Cozy-Mystery.com. A lawyer and judge, Cecil used his professional life as the foundation of his writing. This cozy courtroom drama is full of comic touches and curious plot twists.  I’m not saying it’s laugh out loud hilarious (rolling on the floor laughing isn’t healthy  for middle-aged backs anyway).  But the amusement naturally comes out of the characters and incidents. The writing is pristine, especially in the climactic courtroom scenes.


I’m not much of a P.G. Wodehouse fan because I find his novels too silly. Nor do I care much for John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole, because I find him too cynical. Call me Goldilocks but I find in Cecil just the right amount of genial fun and lifelike heft. All to engage ze leetle grey cells, eh, Hastings? I want to read more of Henry Cecil’s novels, because they are light-hearted, smart and well-written.






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