cover image A Christmas Return

A Christmas Return

Anne Perry. Ballantine, $20 (192p) ISBN 978-0-425285-07-7

One day in December 1896, octogenarian Mariah Ellison, the sensitive, fully fleshed-out star of bestseller Perry’s exceptional 15th Christmas-themed mystery (after 2016’s A Christmas Message), receives an unusually heavy Christmas pudding at her house in London. Inside there’s a small cannonball. This odd gift reawakens painful memories of 20 years earlier, when Cullen Wesley, whom Mariah secretly loved, died under mysterious circumstances. Cullen was the lawyer defending Owen Durward, who was charged with the murder of 14-year-old Christina Abbott in Haslemere, Surrey. Before Owen’s trial, Cullen quit the case; hours later, he died when struck by an ornamental cannonball in a bizarre accident in his study. Owen was eventually acquitted of killing Christina. But now, according to the note from Cullen’s grandson Peter that arrives the same day as the pudding, Owen has returned to Haslemere, bent on regaining his reputation, and may be a threat to Cullen’s widow, Rowena. Peter believes Mariah is the only person who can save his grandfather’s good name, and Mariah decides to journey to Surrey to help. Perry unobtrusively incorporates insights about the true meaning of the season into the engrossing plot. [em]Agent: Donald Maass, Donald Maass Literary. (Nov.) [/em]