Christmastide brings no comfort or joy to several Marsborough families.
Author Rona Parish (Person or Persons Unknown, 2005, etc.) and her twin sister Lindsey are already dealing with the breakup of their parents’ marriage when a friend who married into the Tarlton family of local jewelers asks for help finding the cause of her sister-in-law Freya’s crippling nightmares. When Rona and her husband, artist Max Allerdyce, pop into the Tarlton shop for a new watch, Freya opens a music box to determine the tune and faints at their feet. Rona, who’s planning a series on old Marsborough shops, decides to take on the case of Freya’s mysterious nightmares, which involve a sensation of falling after Freya overhears shouting, sobbing and a nameless song. Freya’s old nanny reveals that she had once fallen asleep, allowing three-year-old Freya to go through a garden gate into a neighboring area where she was found scratched and speechless on the day her mother ran off with a lover. On a visit to the area, Freya’s older brother recalls his treehouse and an old well, which proves to be his mother’s final resting place. On the homefront, Rona must deal with Max’s apparent affair with a student and Lindsey’s juggling of two men. All will be resolved at a family Christmas dinner at the Clarendon Hotel.
Rona’s ever-absorbing family issues and a competent conundrum make this another hit in Fraser’s Marsborough series.