Book Review: A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry
First of all, Merry Christmas, or as my British friends would probably say, Happy Christmas!
I hope everyone has had a jolly time so far this holiday season.
Yes, there have been a few things happen which are so sad, from the death of George Michael to the plane crash which killed sixty-four members of the Alexandrov Ensemble a.k.a. Russian Army Choir (formerly the Red Army Choir). As a longtime fan, I am stunned. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandrov_Ensemble
Our prayers go out to the families and to the country of Russia, as a whole, on the loss of so many members of this iconic ensemble. A true tragedy.
And to the friends and family, and the many fans of George Michael, I offer my deepest condolences.
But life goes on. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like it can, but miraculously the sun comes up the next day even if we don’t want it to.
We’ve had our shares of ups and downs this year and over the last few, but our lives are going on.. And I am diving into reading again. I found I was spending so much time working on editing other people’s books, not only wasn’t I writing, but I also wasn’t reading. So that has changed. It’s my biggest New Year’s resolution. Read for fun!!!
So I grabbed one of Anne Perry’s Christmas Mystery books off the shelf where it had been sitting for a couple of years, and thought, I should read THIS!!!
I love Anne’s writing. It satisfies all my needs to my core. Nice historical settings. The ones that resonate with me—the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. I think that must have been the time period of my most recent past life. I have never really felt totally comfortable in this era. I’ve met Anne at the Surrey International Writers Conference ( http://www.siwc.ca ) in years past. I’ve even sat with her for lunch. And, of course, there are the inevitable meetings in the bathroom, during the conference. We are all the same.
During lunch, we chatted and her concerns were just like the rest of us, dietary. I have to order special meals because of serious allergies. We seemed to be a table of food concerns that day.
I missed seeing her this year. I hope she shows up in 2017. She is one of the figureheads of the conference—along with our beloved Jack Whyte ( http://www.jackwhyte.com )and Diana Gabaldon ( http://www.dianagabaldon.com )—and such a lovely person.
Of course, I started with the second one in the collection, A Christmas Secret, which is number four in The Christmas Stories. A Random House publication, it was published on November 7, 2006.
Here’s a brief description off Amazon.com.
“Dominic Corde is thrilled to “fill the robe” as substitute vicar in the village of Cottisham, while the Reverend Wynter is away on a three-week Christmas holiday. Glad to escape his dreary London flat and a less-than-satisfying job as church curate, Dominic and his beloved wife, Clarice, set off for what they hope will be a lovely winter getaway.
Upon arrival, in the midst of a frigid, exceptionally snowy season, Dominic and Clarice are welcomed by warm, hospitable neighbors and enchanted by the cozy, inviting vicarage. Everything seems almost too perfect. Dominic’s only concern is how he will be received by the congregation, who hold the Reverend Wynter in such high regard. But as Clarice soon discovers, she and Dominic have much more dire matters to worry about. It turns out that the Reverend Wynter isn’t on holiday at all–and that something very sinister has transpired.
As a blizzard leaves Cottisham treacherously snowbound and the isolated village swirls with unsavory secrets, Dominic and Clarice suddenly find themselves in deadly danger.”
I love Anne’s descriptive style. You can almost taste her verbal pictures of the weather and landscape. Here’s an excerpt.
“Dominic remained another fifteen minutes, and then took his leave out into a fading afternoon, now even more bitterly cold. Some of the clouds had cleared away, and it had stopped snowing. The light was pale, with the amber of the fading sun low on the horizon. Shadows were growing longer. The edge of the wind cut like a blade, making his skin hurt and his eyes water.
His feet slipped a little as he trudged down the icy drive. Other than the thud of the mounded snow on the evergreens overbalancing onto the ground below, there was silence in the gathering gloom.
Beyond the trees, the village lights shone yellow, making little golden smudges sparkling against the blue-gray of twilight. Someone opened a door onto a world of brilliance. A dog scampered out then back in again, and the light vanished.
Dominic’s hands and feet were numb. Hunching his shoulders from the cold, he stopped for a moment to retire his scarf.
That was when he heard the footsteps behind him. He swung around, his breath catching in his throat from the icy air in his lungs. The figure was there, crossing the village green only a few yards away. She was bent, shivering, and very small. She stopped also, motionless, as if uncertain whether to try running away.” Page 309 of the two book collection.
As a Canadian, who grew up in Ontario, and was born in one of the worst snowstorms in January of 1952, I can tell you this winter description is dead on the money. I can taste the cold. I got pneumonia, one year, from running to school, breathing through my mouth, without a scarf over my face. I know what icy cold feels like in your lungs. I know the wind of winter can take your breath literally away and make you think you are suffocating.
I can see the skies, and feel the air when I read her stories. Plus she knows how to pace a mystery, slowly and carefully, making you have to turn the pages and just finish the bloody book or you will never sleep. So I don’t pick up one of her books unless I know I have a few hours to read, because I’m just going to stay up through the night till it’s done. Thankfully, I’m a fast reader.
Anyway, I have now read three of her Christmas Stories, and will share bits from each over the next couple of weeks as I continue to read as many as I downloaded on my kindle. It was too ‘wintery’ outside to go to the bookstore, so I just bought the e copies. But know I am the kind of reader who likes the feel and smell of the hard copy in my hot little hands! I will never allow the tech device to replace the real thing completely. (Though I do like the ability to enlarge the print on these new fangled devices.) And I will probably pick up hard copies as I find them so I can wear them out for real. 😁
So, if you’re looking for a nice winter Mystery, here is a good one.
I give it five stars! Or six, if there was such a thing. *****(*)+
It’ll keep you in the Christmas mood!
Here’s a bunch of links:
Forgive the long links, I’m feeling very lazy today. 😳😒
And here’s a little something extra.
All the best, and Merry Christmas!