Cover image for The house of seven Mables : a Jane Jeffry mystery
The house of seven Mables : a Jane Jeffry mystery
Churchill, Jill, 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, 2002.
Physical Description:
234 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Harried suburban single mom and delightfully incorrigible busybody Jane Jeffry returns to do some dangerous housecleaning in another charming whodunit from America's Agatha Award-winning answer to Dame Agatha Christie: Jill Churchill.

Homemaking is about to take on a whole new meaning for Jane Jeffry now that she's agreed to help restore and redecorate a decrepit old neighborhood mansion. The home's owner, the prosperously divorced Bitsy Burnside, considers herself to be a feminist to the max and wants an almost all-female crew to do the dirty work -- prompting the quick-witted Shelley Nowack to dub the project "the House of Seven Mabels." With her best friend and decorating whiz Shelley on the estrogen-heavy team, Jane thinks this exhausting, plaster-dusty job may not be as unpleasant as it initially appeared to be.

Until, of course, things start to get very messy. It begins with a series of mean-spirited "pranks" -- strange odors, mysterious electrical shorts, a myriad of petty annoyances designed to impede the progress of the fixer-uppers. And then the pranks turn deadly, leaving one of the workers lying lifeless at the foot of a staircase.

Tragic, yes, but an accident? Jane thinks not. And with the able assistance of Shelley, not to mention a little help from her best beau, Chicago detective Mel VanDyne, Jane's hoping she can construct a solid case and nail the assassin. Suspects are certainly in abundant supply. The surviving members of Bitsy's building brigade all had the opportunity. Joe Budley -- the contractor originally hired, then fired when Bitsy had her "no men allowed" epiphany -- had a motive. But the more Jane saws away at the truth, the more complicated the criminal blueprint appears. And she may be painting herself into a comer, leaving no exit if a crafty killer decides to make Jane Jeffry the next demolition project.

Author Notes

Jill Churchill (born Janice Young Brooks) on January 11, 1943 in Kansas City, Missouri. She earned a degree in education from the University of Kansas in 1965 before teaching elementary school. Between 1978 and 1992, she was book reviewer for the Kansas City Star. She published several historical novels under her real name before introducing a new series in 1989. This mystery series follows Jane Jeffry, a widow with three children in Chicago. With her neighbor and best friend, she gets involved in murder cases. The novel titles are puns on literary works and reflect Jeffry's cozy domestic life which she leads between crime-solving episodes.

Churchill is the winner of the Agatha and Macavity Awards for her first Jane Jeffrey novel and was featured in Great Women Mystery Writers in 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Jane Jeffry and her best friend and neighbor, Shelley, are both invited by an old classmate, Bitsy, now rich and divorced, to be the decorators for a crumbling Victorian pile she hopes to renovate. Jane and Shelley are put off not only by the house but also by Bitsy's high-handedness and her contractor, a sharp and controlling sort. The contractor ends up dead soon after, and things begin to go wrong in the renovation, even before Jane and Shelley have a workable contract. The plot falls into some really infelicitous holes: there's a lot of feminist bashing (and the odd connection that childhood abuse would make one into a rabid feminist). The good parts, though, are what continue to make this series appealing: Jane's care for her children and her detective boyfriend, Mel, and her relationship with Shelley, food, and shopping. In this one, she not only buys herself and Todd, her youngest, new computers, but she also gets working on that historical romance she has always wanted to write. GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mystery NOTES July Publications Agatha and Macavity Award-winner Jill Churchill brings murder and mayhem to the suburbs once again (and adds a 13th punny title to the popular series she began with Grime and Punishment) in her good-natured cozy The House of Seven Mables: A Jane Jeffrey Mystery. With parenting demanding less of their time, best pals Jane Jeffrey and Shelley Nowack agree to decorate a house that's being renovated by a bevy of feminist laborers, but when the contractor winds up in the basement with a broken neck, the plucky duo must determine if the crime was personally or professionally motivated not to mention stay out of harm's way themselves. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hired by hard-core feminists to decorate a large house, Jane and best pal Shelley (Mulch Ado About Nothing) are hampered by nasty pranks and murder. As usual, Churchill mixes comic relief with traditional sleuthing. For fans and others. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.