Aerden (aerden) wrote,

A Christmas Guest by Anne Perry

I was given this book as a Christmas gift from my brother-in-law, and I just got around to reading it last night.

I enjoyed the book. I don't think it's one of Perry's best, as you can pretty much tell who the killer is from the moment you meet that character, but I often find that the point of Perry's novels is not who did it, but the moral issues behind the story. This book features Mariah Ellison, better known as Grandmama from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt books. She undergoes a transformation here, so for that reason, I found this book a treat.

But I begin to wonder if Perry has joined the ranks of that same group Anne McCaffrey unfortunately belongs to--the group of writers whose books sell so well that they no longer appear to get much editing.

Maude Barrington is a guest (along with Grandmama) of Charlotte Pitt's mother Caroline and her second husband, Joshua Fielding. Maude dies while staying in her cousin Joshua's home. Mariah, who had been rather huffy to Maude during her brief acquaintance with her, suspects foul play and becomes determined to root out the truth because of a growing feeling of kinship she feels with the dead woman.

The book suffers from a serious flaw--the need to have Mariah able to remain with Maude's family at their nearby home for several days so that she can have time to ferret out the truth behind the murder.

We are told that the Barrington sisters' home is about five miles away from Joshua's and Caroline's residence. This equates to a 40 to 50-minute journey by horse-drawn carriage, which is not at all a long trip. It gets dark very early in England in December, and since Mariah arrives at the Barrington home in late afternoon, they offer her lodging so she won't have to travel home in the dark--this despite the fact that Mariah sends the carriage-driver home.

Later in the book, Mariah travels twice to deliver Christmas gifts for the Barringtons to various people in neighboring villages. If she can do that much traveling in a carriage, there seems to me no reason why she couldn't go home, and I don't at all understand why the Barrington sisters don't start looking at her funny at some point, wondering why she is still at their house. Yes, there is a snowstorm at one point, but still, Mariah was well able to leave and by all logic of courtesy should have. I don't care how determined she is to solve the crime; you have to go with reality.

Because Mariah cannot return to Joshua's and Caroline's home, neither, apparently, can anyone from the Barrington home go retrieve Maude's body. For all I know, the body just lies upstairs in the Fieldings' guest bedroom until Mariah returns at the end of the book. It just doesn't make sense.

I would love to beg Perry to rewrite this book so that it's logical. A three-day snowstorm would do the trick. That may be unimaginative, but it would at least be effective and believable.

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