The delightful Father Tom Christmas returns, and the cozy hamlet of Thornford Regis comes to life, in C. C. Benison’s witty, beautifully written series that is “a must-read for lovers of classic English mysteries” (Kirkus Reviews).
Although Father Tom Christmas serves his little church in enchanting Thornford Regis with a glad and faithful heart, he never expects to find himself skydiving to raise money for it. Nor, safely back on the ground, to see two of the other divers leap from the plane, then tangle in a midair punch-up and begin falling to the earth.
To say that there is tension between the men in question—Oliver, the 7th Marquess of Morborne, and his brother-in-law Hector, the 10th Earl of Fairhaven—would be an understatement. But the trouble among this ancient landed family really began a generation ago, when a marquess divorced his first spouse to marry his brother’s wife, fathering in his two marriages a viper’s nest of arrogant young aristocrats. Now they have all turned up for the show to witness this shocking event in the sky.
Thankfully the men land safely, but death will not be slighted. Much to Father Tom’s dismay, he later discovers Lord Morborne lying deceased on castle grounds. Rumors of bigamy, art forgeries, and upstairs/downstairs intrigue fly. So do whispers of unvicarly behavior between Tom and Oliver’s beautiful half-sister, Lady Lucinda. In fact, the vicar may be headed for a very hard landing of his own.
C. C. Benison gives a virtuoso performance in this gripping new puzzle, a compelling and wise holiday mystery with the irresistible allure of hot tea and warm scones on a cold winter’s day.
Praise for C. C. Benison’s Father Christmas mysteries
Ten Lords A-Leaping
“A strong mystery reminiscent of P. D. James, with many well-developed characters, local color and a sensitive, intelligent investigator.”—Kirkus Reviews
“An affable lead with a sympathetic backstory anchors Benison’s carefully crafted third Father Christmas mystery. . . . Readers will hope that Christmas will keeping detecting past the partridge-in-a-pear-tree volume.”—Publishers Weekly
“This leisurely paced, English-country-house mystery has multiple plotlines and plot twists as Tom finds a long-lost relative of a friend and solves several mysteries.”—Booklist
Eleven Pipers Piping
“Benison uses the claustrophobia of village life to great effect, making the series a psychologically astute pleasure for fans of traditional cozies.”—The Washington Post
“Smashingly clever . . . Readers will be crazy about this vicar.”—Library Journal
“A great whodunit in the best British tradition.”—The Globe and Mail
Twelve Drummers Drumming
“A crime novel that Agatha Christie might have been justly proud to claim as her own.”—Margaret Maron
“Benison does an admirable job balancing humor with suspense. . . . Father Christmas’s first case leaves you eager for his next.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Splendid . . . an intelligent and empathic protagonist and skillful prose make this a winner.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The welcome return of C. C. Benison’s 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’s dark tower, alone and dead from what appears to be a heart attack.
Father Tom’s own heart sinks when he learns the actual cause of Will’s 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. The question is: Who would benefit most from the piper’s death? Suspicion swirls around many, including Will’s beautiful widow, their shadowy son, Will’s obnoxious brother-in-law, and even the mysterious party crasher, who knows more than she lets on about the grudges she left behind—but never forgot.
Brimming with wit, full of genuine surprise, and featuring one of the most memorable (and unlikely) detectives in mystery fiction, C. C. Benison’s second Father Christmas mystery will delight readers with a puzzle that truly defies solution.
Father Tom Christmas moves to the picturesque English hamlet of Thornford Regis to become its new vicar and to seek a peaceful haven. But inside the empty village hall, the huge Japanese o-daiko drum that’s featured in the May Fayre festivities has been viciously sliced open—and curled up inside is the bludgeoned body of Sybella Parry, the daughter of the choir director. Realizing this village is not the refuge he’d hoped for, Father Tom comes to a disturbing conclusion: Sybella’s killer must be one of his parishioners. No one is above suspicion—not Sebastian John, the deeply reserved verger, nor Mitsuko Drewe, a local artist, nor Colonel Northmore, survivor of a World War II prison camp. And over all hangs the long-unsolved mystery of a sudden disappearance, one that brought Father Tom to this picture-perfect place to live—or die.