A world traveler goes home to Maine for a Christmas visit that will change her life forever.
Tour guide Callie Aspen has returned home to spend Christmas in Heart’s Harbor and visit with her great-aunt Iphy, who runs a tearoom whose delightful treats contain literary clues. As Callie plans to deliver a magnificent cake to Haywood Hall for a special party, her thoughts linger on the days when she spent a great deal of time at the hall and had a crush on Stephen Du Bouvrais, the heir of owner Dorothea Finster. At 93, Dorothea has decided to throw a party to announce the provisions of her newest will. Callie has stayed away ever since Stephen married Sheila, another old friend, but she’s immediately thrust back into family problems when Sheila shows her the heirloom ring to be hidden in the cake so that Ben Matthews, whom she wants to marry her daughter, Amber, can find it and propose at the party. Instead, Ben opens the box to find the ring gone, and soon after Amber discovers the body of Mr. Leadenby, who lives on the estate, stabbed to death in the conservatory. The police arrive in the attractive form of Deputy Falk, whom Callie crosses when he thinks she’s questioning his experience. Almost everyone invited to hear the reading of the will has a personal stake in learning its provisions, from the presumptive heirs to the mayor and a teacher who want money to spend on improvements for the town. The police investigation identifies handyman Cole Merton, Amber’s true love, as the leading suspect. Much to Falk’s chagrin, Callie continues to ask questions that turn up some startling revelations.
A delightful debut that combines the ambience of the board game Clue with whodunits in the family-secrets mold of Mary Roberts Rinehart and Leslie Ford.