Christmas in Yorkshire is a nasty combination of pouring rain and murder.
Amateur sleuth Phillip Bethancourt, who’s just broken up with his girlfriend Marla, is spending Christmas at his family manor house. His pal, Scotland Yard Detective Jack Gibbons, who’s just returned to duty after sick leave, has been sent to York to check out a murder that might be the work of a serial killer known as Ashdon. Both friends are cheered by the prospect of a juicy murder. Gibbons, certain that the corpse found in a shop is Ashdon’s work, sends for DS Brumby, who is surprised to find an Ashdon case so far from the killer’s usual haunts in southern England. Then Jody Farraday’s body is found in Mittlesdon’s bookshop in York. Though the murder this time doesn’t fit Ashdon’s style, Gibbons and Bethancourt take up residence in the Bethancourt family’s York townhouse and investigate. Bethancourt knows Mittlesdon’s, where free-spirited Farraday used to work, and has an old flame working there now. But his inside knowledge is of little avail. So many people could have possessed a key that the suspect list is large, and Jody’s unusual background and wandering ways make it more difficult to pinpoint a motive until the sleuths learn more, much more, about the victim.
Chan (Village Affairs, 2006, etc.) beefs up the mystery while retaining the Golden Age feel to produce her best work to date.