cover image A Christmas Hope

A Christmas Hope

Anne Perry. Ballantine, $18 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-345530-75-2

Set in December 1868, Perry's well-crafted 11th Christmas-themed mystery (after 2012's A Christmas Garland) features a character from her William Monk series. Claudine Burroughs volunteers at the clinic for sick or injured prostitutes run by Monk's wife, Hester, an activity that's just one of the points of friction between her and her disapproving husband, Wallace, an investment adviser. At a party they attend in London attended by the socially prominent, Claudine meets acclaimed Welsh poet Dai Tregarron, who suggests that she change her outlook on life. Before she can fully process his suggestion, another guest, Winnie Briggs, is savagely assaulted, and Tregarron is accused of the attack, which proves fatal. Convinced that the poet is innocent, Claudine works to save Tregarron from execution over her husband's objection. While the book lacks the political content of some of the author's other work, a compelling story and lead make this a winner. Agent: Donald Maass, Donald Maas Literary Agency. (Nov.)