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by Mary Daheim

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-345-50259-9
Publisher: Ballantine

The Lords celebrate Christmas.

Emma Lord’s holiday season is getting off to a bumpy start. Her brother Ben, a priest, thinks she and her divorced love, Sheriff Milo Dodge, are heading down a sinful path. Her son Adam, another priest, is overdue from Alaska, where he’s snowbound. Mitch Laskey, her employee at the weekly Advocate, needs time off to hunt for his son, who’s just escaped from prison for the second time. Emma thinks things couldn’t get much worse, but of course they can. When hikers find a body moldering in a cave on Mount Sawyer, Roy Everson, the local postmaster, is convinced it’s his mama, Myrtle, who disappeared 16 years ago. The body turns out to be male, but that doesn’t stop Roy from carrying on and Emma from digging away at the only clue to its identity, a Saint Augustine medal. The more Emma digs, the more she gets in the way of the sheriff, who knows that kissing her won’t stop her, but can’t resist anyway. The town gossips go wild. The Lord priests take differing views on the romance. Someone is so upset by Emma’s snooping that her carport is set on fire. Even worse, she’s attacked and almost killed before the sheriff steps in and rescues her, the perp is identified and Roy learns what really became of Myrtle.

Daheim (The Alpine Vengeance, 2011, etc.) keeps this long-running series lively with generous helpings of small-town chatter, charm and middle-age romance.