Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Secret - Anne Perry

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.

Another really nice Christmas mystery by Anne Perry, this one dedicated to new beginnings.

As in her other books she is very good at delivering period detail and the cosy and not so cosy sense of small villages, in with the cosiness of helping neighbours goes hand in hand with less than welcoming and well meaning characters.

In this story Daniel Corde, a secondary character in the first book of the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, arrives at Cottisham to replace the vicar who has left on a Christmas holiday. Unfortunately soon his wife Clarice finds the vicar dead in the cellar and they both decide to find the truth about his death. Vicar Wynter was apparently well loved by all his parishioners and his murder is quite unexplainable.

Corde knows he has to prove himself as worthy of following in Vicar Wynter’s footsteps, even if he has to dig up some unpleasant secrets, and wishes the Bishop would allow to stay in Cottisham indefinitely as this is the perfect opportunity for him and Clarice to start building their lives away from London and their less than fortunate circumstances there.

Perry is also great with the character development and I always finish these stories with a sense of understanding and sympathy towards the main character. Although the mystery might not be very complex it is a wonderful cosy read and a treat for fans of the Pitt series who want to know more about some of the secondary characters. It closes with Corde’s holiday sermon and a message of hope and forgiveness which seemed fitting.

Grade: 4/5

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