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Father Tom Christmas, the recently widowed vicar adjusting to life in the English village of Thornford Regis, would do almost anything to avoid attending the annual Robert Burns Supper at the local hotel. But as chaplain to a traditional Scottish pipe band, Father Tom must deliver the grace—and contend with wailing bagpipes, whiskey-laced parishioners reciting poetry, and the culinary abomination that is haggis.
As snow falls to unprecedented depths, the revelers carry on—briefly interrupted by an enigmatic stranger seeking shelter. Then Will Moir, proprietor of the hotel and a dedicated piper, inexplicably goes missing—only to be found later in the hotel’s dark tower, alone and dead from what appears to be a heart attack.
Father Tom’s own heart sinks when he learns the actual cause of Will’s demise. When word gets out, the flurry of innocent speculation descends into outlandish gossip. And, for all its tranquil charm, Thornford Regis has plenty to gossip about—illicit trysts, muted violence, private sorrows, and old, unresolved tragedies. The question is: Who would benefit most from the piper’s death? Suspicion swirls around many, including Will’s beautiful widow, their shadowy son, Will’s obnoxious brother-in-law, and even the mysterious party crasher, who knows more than she lets on about the grudges she left behind—but never forgot.
Brimming with wit, full of genuine surprise, and featuring one of the most memorable (and unlikely) detectives in mystery fiction, C. C. Benison’s second Father Christmas mystery will delight readers with a puzzle that truly defies solution.
Introducing Father Tom Christmas, the wise, warmhearted new vicar of a picturesque English village that seems to be a haven of peace. But appearances can be very deceiving. . . .
Thornford Regis has never been lovelier: larks on the wing, lilacs in bloom, and the May Fayre in full swing. But inside the empty village hall, the huge Japanese o-daiko drum that’s featured in the festivities has been viciously sliced open—and curled up inside is the bludgeoned body of Sybella Parry, the beautiful nineteen-year-old daughter of the choir director.
That she was too young to die, everyone agrees. But did Sybella’s apparent affinity for Goth and the black arts, and her rumored drug use, attract a shady element that led to her distressing demise?
Father Tom Christmas, still haunted by the tragedy that has left him a widower and his nine-year-old daughter motherless, soon realizes that this idyllic village is not the refuge he’d hoped for. He also comes to a disturbing conclusion: Sybella’s killer must be one of his parishioners. No one is above suspicion—not Sebastian John, Father Tom’s deeply reserved verger, nor Mitsuko Drewe, a local artist, nor irritable Colonel Northmore, survivor of a World War II prison camp. One by one, infidelity, theft, and intrigue are exposed. And over all, like an approaching storm, hangs the long-unsolved mystery of a sudden disappearance, one that brought Father Tom to a picture-perfect place to live—or die.
Smart, funny, edgy, and packing a terrific emotional charge, Twelve Drummers Drumming is a brilliant launch for C. C. Benison’s series starring Father Tom Christmas, an appealing new detective on the mystery scene.