Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas Guest by Anne Perry

In A Christmas Guest, Mariah Ellison, better known as the vinegar-tongued Grandmama from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, makes a stunning appearance in a bracing story full of devious delight . . . and certain death.

For Grandmama Ellison, Christmas is no reason to celebrate. And when her daughter and son-in-law plan a Christmas vacation to Paris sans hers truly, the cantankerous Grandmama is forced to stay elsewhere–and travels to the chilly, windswept Romney Marshes to spend the holiday with Charlotte Pitt’s parents, Caroline and Joshua Fielding.

Grandmama is immediately miserable. For starters, Christmas with the Fieldings is nothing like the cultured life to which she’s accustomed, and the Romney Marshes are unbearably provincial. When Joshua’s cousin Maude Barrington arrives, Grandmama is at her wit’s end. Although Maude is well traveled and friendly, Grandmama thinks she’s improper and strange. But when Maude is found lifeless in bed, Grandmama senses foul play and takes it upon herself to assume the role of amateur detective–uncovering not only the truth about Maude Barrington but some startling truths about herself as well.

I do hope Anne Perry continues to write theses because they really are a treat during the holiday season. The only drawback is that most of the main characters in these stories are secondary characters from her two series - the Inspector Monk and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt. So it happens that from time to time I find out something that is going to happen in books of those series that I haven't read yet. For instance in this story the main character is Charlotte Pitt's grandmother and I ended finding some things about her that I didn't know yet since I only read a few books in that series.

Mariah Ellison, the mentioned grandmother, is very unhappy because she will have to spend the holiday season with her former daughter-in-law who is now married to a younger actor, Joshua. Mariah is very bitter and finds fault with almost everything. Things only get worse when it is announced that one of Joshua's relatives will come to spend the holiday season with them because her family already has guests. The relative, Maude, reveals herself as an original woman, a traveler who has spent most of her time abroad and has really enjoyed the different cultures she has known.

While Mariah doesn't exactly feels any empathy with Maude the truth is that when she is found dead in her bed the next morning she suspects murder was done. She even discovers how it could have happened. And she starts feeling that she may have some things in common with Maude and she was in fact a woman to be admired. So she decides to go and meet Maude's family, tell them what happened and possibly discover who the killer is.
In the process Mariah Ellison discovers a few truths about her, a lot of secrets in Maude's family and that joy and good will, not to mention good people, actually exist. She finds the spirit of Christmas! Just lovely!
Grade: 4.5/5


  1. I haven't read any mysteries for a while, and this sounds really good. Thanks!

  2. Looks like a good book for the holiday season. I might give it a try. Nice review..

  3. I hope you like it as much as I did!