Ex-pat Stella and British aristocrat Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst are thrilled to celebrate their first Christmas together as Morrington Hall comes alive with caroling, intricate decorations . . . and a deadly murder.
Taking on the responsibilities that come with being Lady Lyndhurst, Stella is eager to embrace yuletide traditions in the Edwardian English countryside and use her strong social influence for good. Her world becomes so consumed with starting a horse farm charity for the holidays that she barely notices the usual oddities attached to her upper-crust lifestyle. At least, not until items vanish from her bedroom and maligned housekeeper, Mrs. Nelson, becomes seriously ill—only to be found dead in the cold on Mistletoe Lane . . .
Cheery spirits are dashed following the sudden death, especially once Stella questions whether her own staff knows what—or who—killed the woman. Her suspicions mount when another person dies under strange circumstances during New Forest’s annual Point‑to‑Point Boxing Day race. Then there’s the case of Morrington Hall becoming plagued by false identities, secret affairs, and disgruntled employees . . .
Now, with two murders unfolding before their eyes in late December, Stella and Lyndy realize they can’t fully trust anyone except for themselves while investigating. Because as disturbing answers come into focus, identifying the criminal responsible and surviving into the new year would be the greatest gift of the season . . .
McKenna's charming fifth historical cozy featuring Stella Kendrick (after 2022's Murder at the Majestic Hotel) picks up just after the Kentucky-born heiress has married British aristocrat Viscount "Lyndy" Lyndhurst and moved with him to the lavish Morrington Hall in Hampshire, England. It's late December 1905, and the young newlyweds are preparing for their first Christmas together. Their chambermaids have decorated Morrington with freshly cut boughs of pine and holly to prepare for the arrival of the imperious Lady Isabella Kentfield and her family, who will be staying with the Lyndhursts for the holidays. When an important member of the household staff is found dead near the estate before the Kentfields arrive, Stella and Lyndy set out to investigate. Another death soon follows, and Stella begins to connect the body count to strange goings-on at Morrington: items vanishing from her bedroom, anonymous love letters appearing out of nowhere, suspicious behavior by the staff. Friction in the servants' quarters and some icy sniping between Stella and Isabella provides an entertaining backdrop. This easygoing Christmas mystery hits the spot.