Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould (from Perry's Thomas Pitt series) is looking forward to a holiday house party at Applecross to join in the spirit of the season. But an innocent weekend in the country ends with a young woman's death. Those at the house believe it was the cruel, jealous words of Vespasia's friend Isobel Alvie that drove Gwendolen to jump off a bridge.

Isobel is ostracized by nearly everyone at Applecross. Vespasia knows her friend can be spiteful, but she does her best to both stand by Isobel and help her to see what kind of woman she has become—one others cannot call friend.

The truth behind Gwendolen's death can only be revealed after everyone travels to Scotland, where Gwendolen's mother reads Gwendolen's shocking last letter. Everyone is stunned by the revelations, and they learn the true meaning of friendship and the undeniable spirit of the season.

Leave it to consummate storyteller Perry to combine a suspenseful plot with an important spiritual message and come across with a winning mystery, complete with red herrings galore. The memorable characters make this a story to carry with you for months to come. (Nov., 180 pp., $15.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin