Review posted February 8, 2009.
Ballantine Books, New York, 2008. 210 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2008: #5 Fiction
Ah, there's nothing like a nice cozy Christmas murder mystery by Anne Perry! It's getting to be a tradition for me that I especially enjoy.
Emily Radley gets a message that her estranged Aunt Susannah is dying. Aunt Susannah was cut off from the family years ago for marrying a Catholic. She lives in a remote part of Ireland, and now she wants to have family near her at Christmas, so she does not die alone.
Emily comes and gets a feel for the coastal village. Then an enormous storm hits, with a shipwreck offshore and a stranger stranded on their beach. Emily learns that the town is haunted by the memory of a similar event. Only that earlier stranger was murdered. Did he ask questions too uncomfortable to answer? What did he know that he was killed for?
I'm not quite sure how Anne Perry manages to make murder mysteries so beautifully communicate a cozy and warm spirit of Christmas. But her Christmas stories leave me feeling uplifted and remind me of what Christmas is all about. Lovely.