Thursday, November 29, 2012
With a protagonist named Father Christmas, and a cover touting a line from the famous holiday carol, you'd think this was a Christmas story. However, C.C. Benison has simply used the naming devices to open a delightful British cozy mystery series. Having answered the call to a vocation after an earlier career as a magician, Father "call me Tom" Christmas is still reeling from the recent brutal murder of his wife. He jumps at the chance to move himself and his 8 year old daughter to the quiet rural English countryside parish at Thornton Regis. The story actually opens during the annual May Fayre where the vicar's sister-in-law is introducing a new production of the village teens playing a set of Japanese drums.
When the body of a local teen is discovered inside one of the drums, the Vicar begins suffering from severe "deja vu". He doesn't want his daughter to have to go through more trauma, but there are many very mysterious people and happenings to sort out. The backfill to the story is nicely padded by letters written by the vicarage housekeeper, who has her finger on the village pulse, and who writes her aging and ill mother every morning telling all the juicy details.
Add to the mix the requisite retired British army officer who suffered immensely as a POW under the Japanese during "the war", a Japanese artist married to the local barkeep, a very secretive verger, the sister and her doctor husband whose marriage doesn't seem any too secure, an aging rock star recovering from previous addictions and his crazy ex-wife, and you have a formula for lots of interesting inter-personal exchanges. You also have lots of suspects and motives and a vicar who won't leave well enough alone. He is determined to figure out what happened and why.
There's lots to like here for fans of English cozies and there's at least enough to make me want to read another one in the series. I actually picked this one up because I have the next one as an ARC from Net Galley, and I wanted to start at the beginning. So stay tuned for my thoughts on "Eleven Pipers Piping" the next in the Fr. Christmas series. I wonder though if Benison can sustain this village and its occupants for 12 volumes.
Title: Twelve Drummers Drumming
Author: C.C. Benison
Pubisher/format Bantam,(2012) paperback 400 pages
Subject: murder in a small village
Setting:fictional British village of Thorton Regis
Series: Fr. Christmas mysteries
Why did I read this book now? Wanted to start the series at the beginning
Source: Public library
Posted by Tina at 12:30 AM