A newcomer joins the ranks of nosy amateur sleuths in cozy village settings. Middle-aged, recently widowed Dorothy Martin is an American living in the cathedral and university town of Sherebury with, de rigueur, her cat Esmerelda. Depressed on her first Christmas Eve after husband Frank's death, Dorothy seeks comfort in the cathedral service. There, she meets the county's Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt, a widower, but has the misfortune to stumble upon the body of Canon Billings in one of the great cathedral's dark corners. Billings, it develops, was killed elsewhere, then moved. It also appears that the influential, scholarly, but little loved Canon had plenty of enemies. He'd threatened the job of young Nigel Evans, a dirt-poor university student working in the cathedral library, as well as that of Jeremy Sayers, the church's gifted organist and choirmaster, and he may have been about to charge verger Robert Wallingford with theft of church funds. Dorothy wonders whether the Canon's recent trip to Greece and his research at the British Museum have any bearing on his murder. An arson fire, another fatality, and the occasional sighting of a ghostly hooded figure fail to deter Dorothy from her obsessive snooping, despite warnings from a concerned Nesbitt. Dams's heroine's a bit more literate and self-analytical than some of her sister sleuths but no less cat-dedicated. A briskly amiable prose style, nicely evoked scenes of village life, and peerings into the rites and rivalries of the English High Church help make a creditable debut.