Friday, November 17, 2017

A Christmas Return (Christmas Stories #15), by Anne Perry (author), Jenny Sterlin (narrator)

Recorded Books, November 2017

With the Christmas season approaching, Charlotte Pitt's grandmother, Mariah Ellison, is at the home of her other granddaughter, Charlotte's sister Emily, with none of Emily's family in residence. They're traveling for the holiday. Mariah has mixed feelings about spending the holiday alone except for Emily's servants, but has no plans to do anything to change that.

Then a most unusual package arrives. It's improbably heavy, especially when it's revealed to be a Christmas pudding. Or at least, it looks like a Christmas pudding. It proves to be about an inch or so of cake around a small, decorative cannonball. Then in the later post that day, she also receives a Christmas card with a message from an old friend's grandson. He sent her the cannonball, and he wants her to come help with an impending family crisis, the long-delayed fallout from an unsolved murder twenty years ago.

Mariah Ellison has long been a grumpy, cantankerous woman, not easy to get along with. Nevertheless, she once had a close friendship with Rowena Wesley and her husband, attorney Cullen Wesley. Then a shocking murder of a young girl occurred, and Cullen was preparing to defend the accused killer, Dr. Owen Derwood.

And then suddenly he wasn't defending Derwood. With no explanation, he announced that he could no longer handle the case. Days later, he was dead himself. A bookcase fell over, and he was struck in the head by that decorative cannonball. Derwood was acquitted anyway, and left town. Rumors swirled that instead of Cullen's death being an accident, Rowena might have killed him, in jealousy over his supposed interest in Mariah. The two friends have not met since.

Now Derwood has returned to town, apparently intending to clear his name--which will mean proving the vile rumors about Cullen, Rowena, and Mariah. Rowena's grandson, Peter Wesley, wants Mariah's help in fighting back--which will mean finding, and proving, the truth of what really happened.

As with all of Perry's Christmas novellas, this is a contained story, in a contained location with a small cast of characters. Also like the other Christmas stories, it's an opportunity for a minor character who gets short shrift in the main series novels to take center stage and get some growth and character development. This is Mariah Ellison's second Christmas outing, and I'm starting to like her quite a bit.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.