After the tragedy of his wife's murder, Anglican priest Tom Christmas has taken an assignment in the village of Thornford Regis because he's looking for a quiet and safe place to raise his young daughter and heal from the trauma of losing his wife.
Unfortunately, death seems to dog the clergyman for a young teenager is found dead in the church hall, stuffed into a large taiko drum that was going to be used for a concert during the church's annual fete.
Shortly thereafter, the church's graveyard coughs up another corpse. This time it is the parish's previous priest, who went mysteriously missing. His body is found hidden where someone expected he would never be found.
Obviously this bucolic village is not the best place to hide away and heal for Father Tom and his daughter. But now he has little choice but to try to find out why his church has become the focal point for so much violence.
The first of a new series, this mystery has all the elements of a traditional British cosy. There are secrets aplenty in the small village and they'll be revealed as the clergyman and reluctant amateur sleuth attempts to assist the inept local police in finding the killer.
With a beguiling cast of eccentric villagers to use as red herrings, Benison makes it all but impossible to guess who the killer is. And, that's a major plus for this delightful whodunit.
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.