NYPD detective Sigrid Harald and her artist-lover, Oscar Nauman, navigate two murder scenarios to ring in the yuletide in this welcome reissue of a 1989 Maron puzzler. When Dr. Roger Shambly, newest trustee at the Erich Breul House Gallery, is found bludgeoned to death with an antique cane following a Christmas gala at the lavishly appointed mansion, Sigrid gets on the case. A blackguard and a blackmailer, Shambly, she learns, discovered a highly unusual artwork among the gallery's eclectic, if dated, collection shortly before his murder. Suspects are as numerous as the ornaments on Breul House's shimmering tree: Hester Kohn and Jacob Munson, partners in a well-known gallery and friends of Oscar; wealthy entrepreneur Soren Thorveldsen; agent Elliott Buntrock; Munson's photographer grandson, Rick Evans; Lady Francesca Leeds (formerly Oscar's lover); Mrs. Gawthorp Wallace Beardsley (senior docent, who coveted Shambly's trusteeship); and Pascal Grant, mentally slow but physically exquisite janitor of Breul House. A subplot about multiple infanticides adds little to the book, but Maron's fascinating and knowledgeable peeks into the world of art and culture provide ample entertainment. (Nov. 1)
FYI:Maron has won two Agatha Awards as well as the Edgar, Macavity and Anthony awards.