An Edwardian murder mystery unfolds at the Pennyfoot Hotel.
Apparently no Christmas can pass without giving hotel owner Cecily Sinclair Baxter yet another murder to solve. Her hopes of a jolly holiday are crushed along with the skull of an unknown man found in the hotel laundry room. PC Northcott, the local constable, is none too bright, and Cecily has steered him to the proper conclusion more than once before (Mulled Murder, 2013, etc.). When Mazie, one of her maids, is threatened with arrest, Cecily realizes that she must solve the case as soon as possible if the holiday’s not to be ruined for her guests. The only clues are a woman’s scarf tied around the corpse’s neck and a note addressed to Percy that’s supposedly from Mazie. It seems that Mazie was bribed by a man eventually identified as Lord Percival Farthingale to get him into the hush-hush card room at the Pennyfoot, a room that’s technically illegal now that the former country club has become a hotel. Lord Percy had a questionable reputation, and not even his widow is surprised or much upset by his untimely death. Although Cecily’s husband, Baxter, does not approve of her sleuthing, he feels he has to join her to help keep her safe. All the while, the Baxters’ faithful servants, downstairs and in the stable, are involved in everything from agitating on behalf of the suffragist movement to searching for the truth about the mysterious auto mechanic who helps in the stables. Nonetheless, the Christmas spirit carries on along with Cecily’s search for a killer.
Holiday charm doesn’t compensate for a mediocre mystery with too many loose ends.