cover image A Spider on the Stairs

A Spider on the Stairs

Cassandra Chan, Minotaur, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-36940-8

Set at Christmastime, Chan's agreeable fourth contemporary cozy (after 2008's Trick of the Mind) finds London manabout-town Phillip Bethancourt unhappily ensconced at his parents' house in Yorkshire for the holidays. Hoping to dodge his inquisitive family's questions about his turbulent personal life, Phillip jumps at the chance to help his Scotland Yard friend, Det. Sgt. Jack Gibbons, when Jack travels north to investigate a murder possibly committed by the notorious Ashdon killer. When Jack decides the crime scene, a York bookshop, and the victim, a freespirited young woman, don't bear the serial killer's hallmarks, he turns his sights on the bookshop staff. The well-connected Phillip provides ready access to cocktail party gossip and more substantial information. Though the seasoned mystery reader may guess the culprit before the methodical Jack, this is an enjoyable outing into Dorothy Sayers territory. (Aug.)