A smitten woman is about to marry a dangerous man—unless Detective Hooper and his new wife, Celia, can prevent it—in this wickedly tangled holiday mystery from bestselling author Anne Perry.
Detective John Hooper, William Monk’s right-hand man at the Thames River Police, is blissfully happy in his new marriage to Celia, the cousin of a victim in one of the river police’s recent murder cases. Celia wants the same happiness for her good friend Clementine, who’s just announced her engagement to Seth Marlowe, a member of her church. Christmas is nearing, and this should be extra cause for celebration, but when Marlowe begins receiving threatening letters about his first wife’s death, it becomes clear that he is far from the devout man Clementine thought he was. In his rage, Marlowe accuses Celia of sending the letters, claiming she wants to ruin his engagement to Clementine. At a loss as to how to defend herself, Celia enlists Hooper to investigate the letters’ claims, and what he finds makes her desperate to show Clementine the truth about her soon-to-be husband.
But Celia herself has not always been truthful, especially not during the murder trial following her cousin’s death. How can she be believed now, when she lied on the stand? Especially when Marlowe knows that she did, and could use it against her. This Yuletide season finds love and faith put to the test—and Celia’s and Clementine’s lives on the line.
Set in December 1872, bestseller Perry's talky 18th Christmas novel focuses on John Hooper of the Thames River Police and his new wife, Celia, last seen in 2018's Dark Tide Rising. Celia is distressed to learn that Clementine Appleby plans to wed Seth Marlowe, a prominent member of their church. Though the impoverished Clementine is grateful for the chance to make a respectable marriage, Celia finds Marlowe cruel and controlling. Marlowe, meanwhile, has been receiving anonymous letters that suggest he helped drive his first wife to suicide. Based only on a vague reference Celia once made to his wife's suicide, Marlowe irrationally concludes that Celia is their source, and he threatens to expose a secret that could damage both Hoopers if she remains friends with Clementine. John attempts to defuse Marlowe's threats and save Clementine from danger by taking a brief leave from the police to investigate Marlowe's past. A vicar who hides his love for Clementine adds some charm, and the novel's musings on faith and forgiveness suit the Christmas season, but the glut of rhetorical questions and lack of dramatic action weaken its appeal. Perry has done better. \n