Sunday, November 11, 2012
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
In December 1933, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is stuck in Scotland with her brother and his unbearable wife, Fig. Georgie stayed to keep Fig company because she was so depressed following the birth of her baby. But, Georgie now faces a terrible fate for the holidays. Fig's mother and family are starting to arrive at Castle Rannoch, and the atmosphere is only going to get worse. She has no place to go, so she answers an ad for a hostess for a house party. Lady Camilla Hawse-Gorzley is delighted to have Georgie there. It looks so good to have someone in the line of succession, even if Georgie is only 35th in line for the throne. And, Tiddleton-under-Lovey is an enchanting village in Devon. Georgie might actually have a nice Christmas, and her mother and grandfather are even spending time in the village.
It looks like it will be a delightful party, even if the guests are somewhat unusual. Georgie couldn't be happier when she learns her beloved Darcy O'Mara will be there since he's a cousin of Lady Hawse-Gorzley. But, Georgie's dreams of romance are overshadowed by a bitter pill. Darcy is the son of Lord Kilhenny, and he's Catholic. Since Georgie is in line for the throne, she can't marry a Catholic.
Before long, Georgie has more troubling things on her mind, though, than her doomed romance. Upon arriving, she learned the police were investigating an unfortunate accident, the death of a neighbor who shot himself while in a tree. On day two, a man falls into Lovey Brook and dies. As the death count mounts, the police investigator blames the unusual deaths on three escaped convicts. The villagers blame them on the Lovey Curse, the lingering story of a witch who cursed the village. And, Georgie has a nagging suspicion she should recognize a pattern.
As I said, kudos to Rhys Bowen. It wasn't until the eighth death that I recognized the pattern. And, I didn't guess the killer. Bowen fills the book with all the charm of an English Christmas, relating the customs of pantomime, charades, Christmas games and holiday food. The book includes a few recipes and directions for games. Best of all, though, it includes Georgie, and a clever killer. The Twelve Clues of Christmas is a fun kick-off to holiday reading. (And, Rhys Bowen reminds everyone that it would make a wonderful gift for the mystery lover in the family.)
Rhys Bowen's website is www.rhysbowen.com. She can be found on Facebook or blogging with the other authors of Jungle Red Writers.
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen. Berkley Prime Crime. 2012. ISBN 9780425252789 (hardcover), 311p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would read it.