Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed-Mignon F. Ballard

Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed
Mignon F. Ballard
St. Martin’s, Nov 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312376673

Everyone’s favorite Guardian Angel Augusta Goodnight is still staying with Lucy Nan Pilgrim in the small town of Stone’s Throw, South Carolina. It is the Christmas season; Augusta’s favorite time of the year. She, Lucy and their friend Ellis seek the right tree for their church fellowship. They are looking on the grounds of Willowbrook, owned by Lucy’s cousin, when they find a dead man on the porch below the mansion’s balcony; the guard rail is broken.

While everyone tries to identify the John Doe, they are also happy for their friend Idonia who avoided love for years, but is involved with newcomer Melrose DuBois, who gave her a locket as a sign of his affection. When Lucy Nan and Ellis visit the caretakers of Willowbrook, the Tanseys, they see a picture of the couple’s dead daughter wearing the same locket that Melrose gave to Idonia. The dead man is identified as Dexter Clark, the son in law of the Tansy’s’ dead daughter. Dexter’s Aunt Opal Henshawe is also killed; Lucy Nan and Ellis know the events are obviously related even Melrose’s disappearance. However, what that connection is remains mysteriously unknown as they seek to identify a killer without becoming the next victims.

Living up to her surname Augusta is the personification of goodness as she is able to make those in her circle feel better about themselves. While she cannot directly help find the culprit, Augusta assists Lucy, Nan, and Ellis on the quest. They each have an inner strength so when they team up, they can move mountains. Mignon F. Ballard is a wonderful storyteller who enchants her audience with this charming amateur sleuth urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner