cover image A Christmas Guest

A Christmas Guest

Anne Perry, . . Ballantine, $16.95 (193pp) ISBN 978-0-345-48380-5

Charlotte's tetchy Grandmama from Perry's Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries does a bit of sleuthing on her own (and learns the true meaning of Christmas) in the author's latest holiday treat (A Christmas Visitor ). When the London lady finds herself banished to the Romney Marshes home of her former daughter-in-law, Caroline (now married—scandalously, in Grandmama's opinion—to a younger actor), she is more than indignant. As if it isn't bad enough to be exiled to "some bog by the sea" at Christmastime, another guest soon arrives: "pointlessly joyous" Maud Barrington, the middle daughter of an old local family who has returned after 40 years of travel in Muslim Africa. Maude's family won't have her; they think she'll be an embarrassment to a visiting peer. Grandmama doesn't take to brash, vivid Maude, either—but as soon as Maude is discovered, suddenly and suspiciously dead in her bedroom, Grandmama regrets her coldness and vows to uncover the truth. When she imparts the sad news to Maude's family in the nearby town, she finds the reaction of Maude's two sisters strange. Their husbands, too, seem odd. Who might be the guilty party? Grandmama digs deep into family secrets and betrayals and becomes a whole new person along the way in this quick and enjoyable read. (Nov.)