Just in time for the holidays, Anne Perry gives her fans a marvelous gift: a new yuletide yarn full of light celebration and dark mischief. Dominic Corde is thrilled to "fill the robe" as substitute vicar in the village of Cottisham, while the Reverend Wynter is away on a three-week Christmas holiday. Glad to escape his dreary London flat and a less-than-satisfying job as church curate, Dominic and his beloved wife, Clarice, set off for what they hope will be a lovely winter getaway. Upon arrival, in the midst of a frigid, exceptionally snowy season, Dominic and Clarice are welcomed by warm, hospitable neighbors and enchanted by the cozy, inviting vicarage. Everything seems almost too perfect. Dominic's only concern is how he will be received by the congregation, who hold the Reverend Wynter in such high regard. But as Clarice soon discovers, she and Dominic have much more dire matters to worry about. It turns out that the Reverend Wynter isn't on holiday at all-and that something very sinister has transpired. As a blizzard leaves Cottisham treacherously snowbound and the isolated village swirls with unsavory secrets, Dominic and Clarice suddenly find themselves in deadly danger. From the Hardcover edition.
Perry's latest short Christmas novel is a well-written if unsurprising period mystery, set in late 19th-century England. Reverend Dominic Corde and his wife, Clarice, are at a turning point in their lives; a chance opportunity has given Dominic the temporary position as vicar of a small village in Oxfordshire, substituting for the incumbent, Reverend Wynter. Their hopes that the position might become permanent are both enhanced and threatened when Clarice discovers Wynter's murdered corpse in the cellar. The resolution is not particularly complicated, but Perry does a nice job of weaving in themes of forgiveness and redemption without being heavy-handed. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 06, 2006
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Excerpt from A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry
Clarice Corde leaned back in her seat as the train pulled out of the station in a cloud of steam. Smuts flew and engine roared as they gathered speed on their journey northward. The rain beat against the window; she could barely see the glistening rooftops of London. It was December 14, 1890, ten days until Christmas Eve. She had been married little more than a year, and she was far from used to being a vicarýs wife. Neither obedience nor tact came to her except with a considerable effort, but she made that effort for Dominicýs sake.
She glanced sideways at him now and saw him deep in thought. She knew he was concerned about his ability to rise to this opportunity they had been offered so unexpectedly. The elderly Reverend Wynter had taken a richly deserved holiday; therefore his church, in the small village of Cottisham in Oxfordshire, needed someone to stand in for him and care for his flock over Christmas.
Dominic had seized the chance. He was a widower who had abandoned a self-indulgent life and embraced the ministry somewhat late. Perhaps no one but Clarice saw beyond his startlingly handsome face and charm of manner to the doubts beneath. She loved him the more fiercely because she knew he understood his own weaknesses as well as the power of his dreams.
He looked up and smiled at her. Once again she was warmed by amazement that he should have chosen her: the awkward sister, the one with the slightly crooked nose that gave her face a wry, individual look, the one with the tactless tongue and the pungent sense of humor, rather than any of the reliable and more conventional beauties eager for his attention.
This chance to go to Cottisham was the greatest Christmas gift they could have been given. It was an escape from serving under the Reverend Spindlewood in the bleak area of industrial London to which he had been sent as curate.