In the picturesque village of Branscombe, New Hampshire, the townsfolk are preparing for the annual Festival of Joy. With preparations in full swing, a group of employees at the local market, recently cheated out of their Christmas bonus by their boss's new wife, learn that they have won $180 million in the lottery. On the advice of a pair of crooks masquerading as financial advisers, one of their co-workers, Duncan, decided at the last minute not to play. He goes missing and the next day his girlfriend Flower also disappears. A second winning lottery ticket was purchased in the next town but the winner hasn't come forward. Could Duncan have secretly bought it?
The Clarks' endearing heroes - Alvirah Meehan, the amateur sleuth, and private investigator Regan Reilly - have arrived in Branscombe for the festival. Alvirah and Regan are just the people to find out what is amiss. As they dig beneath the surface, they find that life in Branscombe is not as tranquil as it appears. So much for an old-fashioned weekend in the country ...
The festive fifth holiday mystery from the bestselling mother-daughter Clarks (after 2006's Santa Cruise) focuses on a wish-fulfillment theme many Americans dream about winning a fortune in the lottery. As Christmas approaches, the folks of Branscombe, N.H., are celebrating their first "Festival of Joy." Visiting from New York City are novelist Nora Regan Reilly and her PI daughter, Regan Reilly, and their close friends Alvirah and Will Meehan, who won $40 million in the lottery a few years earlier. When four employees of Conklin's Market win $160 million using numbers supplied by their associate Duncan Graham, they decide to share their winnings with Duncan. Duncan, alas, has vanished. The Reillys and Meehans soon get on a trail of intrigue involving an abduction, thieves, con men and a second winning lottery ticket. Though the plotting and the characterization can be as thin as early winter ice, this trifle still rates a cheerful ho ho ho.