Homer investigates the violent deaths of a beautiful stage manager's admirers.
Each year, the beautiful Sarah Bailey marks the winter solstice by organizing a pageant of drama and song for the citizens of Harvard University. Last year, the star of the show was Henry Shady, an Appalachian folk singer whose homespun charm won the eye of every young woman in Cambridge. On the eve of this year's Revels, the singer is struck down in the street by an SUV driven by Sarah's husband. The police dismiss it as a freak accident, but Mary Kelly, who witnessed the singer's death, is not so sure.
Her husband, Harvard professor and sometime sleuth Homer, dismisses her suspicion. But when more of the revelers suffer untimely deaths, Homer sees a pattern. Winter has gripped Cambridge, and Sarah's husband may have been seized with murderous jealousy.
As this enormously appealing tale winds its way through the byzantine complexities of town and gown, smug Harvard professor and former detective Homer Kelly, in his 11th appearance (after Divine Inspiration), figures out whodunit well after his wife, Mary--and the reader. In Cambridge, Mass., the annual Christmas Revels celebrating the Winter Solstice are being meticulously planned by beauteous Sarah Bailey, whose obsessively jealous husband, Morgan, an ornithologist, is clearly pinpointed as the deranged killer of all her imagined suitors. As a folksinger, an attorney and a dancer are dispatched with grisly efficiency, the self-satisfied Homer ignores the suspicions of demure, astute Mary. Meanwhile, much of Harvard's campus is taken over by activists as a well-organized tent city is erected by the homeless of Cambridge, under the direction of a professional protestor whose cynical manipulation of the media reaches new heights of black humor. Langton's witty line drawings enrich the proceedings as journalists, do-gooders and a fine crew of sharply drawn academics (ambitious, competitive, jealous and psychotic) come in for some delicate ribbing. Neither the occasional moralizing nor the crude deus ex machina can slow the merry spin of this colorful and absorbing tale.