The staff at the Pennyfoot Hotel is busy preparing for Christmas when several homicides threaten to ruin the festivities.
Hotel manager Cecily Sinclair Baxter and her friends Phoebe Fortescue and Madeline Pengrath are presiding over a children’s party and waiting for Father Christmas to come down the chimney with gifts when the footman who was assisting him is found dead, apparently from a fall from the roof. Although the gifts are in the chimney as planned, so is the body of Sid Porter, the dubious character hired for the job. Porter’s stabbing seems unusually vicious, but the village constable, eager to depart for his own Christmas holiday, simply decides the footman did it and leaves town. Cecily, no believer in the constable’s theory or talents, starts sleuthing, much against her husband’s wishes. All kinds of strange goings-on must be kept from the guests. The chef’s knife is found in the kitchen ceiling. Large objects are mysteriously moved to unlikely places. The maids are startled by the apparition of a ghostly clown. Cecily must deal with another murder and her husband’s sudden interest in a beautiful singer who’s performing in the Christmas show before she muddles through to identify the murderer.
A pre-WWI whodunit in the classic style, furnished with amusing characters, stilted dialogue and a simple mystery.