Kitchen Romances
The Constable and the Maid

Essay by
Karen Resta
February 2010

The charm of the constable

Kitchen maid and constable In classic English detective fiction, one of the dangers of being a maid in a house where a murder has been committed is the introduction of the constable to the scene. The constables are most decidedly charming to the maids and inevitably end up being invited to the kitchen for a cup of tea and cakes.

My favorite example of constabulatory charm exists in the form of Martha Grimes' Sergeant Wiggins, who more than once has pried apt and dreadful facts from the housekeeper or maid over tea and cakes in the kitchen. Wiggins is assisted in his charm to the women in the kitchen by the fact that he is a dreadful hypochondriac. It is well known that, at least in fiction, male hypochondriacs somehow ooze sex appeal.

But Wiggins has helped solve the case for Richard Jury more than once, so I believe he deserves his tea, cakes, and kitchen romances.

If you find a constable entering your kitchen, you may want to have cakes ready for him yourself. I can’t think of a better place to send you for recipes than Baking for Britain. Get your egg beaters ready, the oven warmed and a few of the guvnor’s smokes off to the side and you are set! Cheers!


Kitchen maid and constable


© 2010 Karen Resta

Originally appeared at
Postcards from the Dinner Table

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