- Virginia Johnson
Sherlock Holmes once remarked to Watson that “the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
Indeed, readers who enjoy suspense, strong characters, and immersing themselves in the deceptively quiet and sometimes lethal English countryside of Victoria’s reign should enjoy Anne Perry’s A Christmas Visitor. Though it does feature a character from her well-established William Monk series, it is not necessary at all to have read those books to appreciate this one.
Henry Rathbone, mathematician and inventor, has removed himself from his London habitat at an urgent summons from his goddaughter, Antonia Dreghorn. A tragic occurrence at her family’s Lake District estate has left her a very young widow. Not convinced that it was an accident, she hopes her brilliant godfather can discover the truth about the mysterious night when her husband Judah went for a walk in horrific weather and was found dead. Surely he was on his way to meet someone, and the most likely suspect is making open threats to the family.
Rathbone is determined to discover the truth behind his old friend’s demise, but the situation is hugely complicated by the holidays. Judah’s brothers and sister-in-law arrive from far-flung continents expecting a merry family get-together. They all seem shocked at the news, and emotions long hidden from one another are now laid raw, particularly when Judah’s sterling reputation for honest and honorable conduct comes under fire.
Readers who enjoy A Christmas Visitor may wish to try her regular series as well as other separate tales set at Yule-tide, including A Christmas Journey, A Christmas Beginning, and A Christmas Garland—all of which feature clever detective stories that are ultimately uplifting without being sugarplum-sweet.