The welcome return of C. C. Benison' delectable series featuring Father Tom Christmas-an irresistible addition to the ranks of clerical sleuths(Julia Spencer-Fleming)Father Tom Christmas, the recently widowed vicar adjusting to life in the English village of Thornford Regis, would do almost anything to avoid attending the annual Robert Burns Supper at the local hotel. But as chaplain to a traditional Scottish pipe band, Father Tom must deliver the grace-and contend with wailing bagpipes, whiskey-laced parishioners reciting poetry, and the culinary abomination that is haggis.As snow falls to unprecedented depths, the revelers carry on-briefly interrupted by an enigmatic stranger seeking shelter. Then Will Moir, proprietor of the hotel and a dedicated piper, inexplicably goes missing-only to be found later in the hotel' dark tower, alone and dead from what appears to be a heart attack.Father Tom' own heart sinks when he learns the actual cause of Will' demise. When word gets out, the flurry of innocent speculation descends into outlandish gossip. And, for all its tranquil charm, Thornford Regis has plenty to gossip about-illicit trysts, muted violence, private sorrows, and old, unresolved tragedies.
Canadian author Benison successfully applies a classic Agatha Christie framework to a contemporary setting in his impressive second whodunit featuring Rev. Tom Christmas (after 2011's Twelve Drummers Drumming). Christmas, who has been vicar of St. Nicholas Church in Thornford Regis for less than a year, finds himself in the midst of another murder investigation. Some months earlier, Will Moir, coach of a cricket club for teenagers, "flared with rage at Harrison Kaif in language unbecoming to an adult charged with children's welfare" during a practice. This unfortunate incident may have led the 14-year-old to commit suicide soon after. When Moir is poisoned, the obvious suspects are members of the dead boy's family. The vicar provides solace as best he can, while employing his empathic gifts to the crime-solving. The interplay among the residents of Thornford Regis creates a rich psychological background and gives this entry even more depth than its predecessor. Agent: Dean Cooke, the Cooke Agency. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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October 29, 2012
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