A Christmas Grace
Ballantine, Oct 2008, $18.00
As 1895 is winding down, Emily Radley, sister-in-law of Scotland Yard’s Superintendent Thomas Pitt (star of Anne Perry’s late Victorian police procedural series), hopes next year will be better. She remains in London for the Christmas season with her husband and two children so she will be expected to attend parties although she is not in the spirit of the season even as she tries to hide her negativism from her family.
On the western coast of Ireland in Connemara, Father Tyndale sends a message to Emily informing her that her Aunt Susannah Ross is dying. Although Susannah was ostracized by the family for marrying outside their religion, Emily feels it is important to visit her relative to provide some comfort for both of them and besides escape the joy of Christmas; she leaves her family in London so they can enjoy the city. In Connemara, Emily is stunned to see the abject fear on every villager’s face. She wonders why but no one will reveal the secret that haunts everyone, but vows to find out. Meanwhile a nasty storm causes a shipwreck leading to a daring rescue followed by an enigmatic murder that makes the outsider’s amateur sleuthing so much more complicated.
The latest Christmas mystery (see A CHRISTMAS SECRET and A CHRISTMAS BEGINNING) is a terrific tale that merges a strong investigation with a sense of time and place while also containing religious elements that enhance the excellent story line. Emily is at her best feeling a bit depressed as the holidays arrive, but being a good mom and wife tries to hide her melancholy from her loved ones. Ireland enables her to do so and get involved in the mystery of a town haunted by something as it is on everyone’s visage. A CHRISTMAS GRACE is a strong entry in a charming holiday series.