A SPIDER ON THE STAIRS
This charming mystery is set in Yorkshire at Christmas. It reunites Scotland Yard detective Jack Gibbons and his friend, the very upper-crust Phillip Bethancourt. The writing is well-done with beautiful descriptions and fine humor. There are clues to appreciate and deductions to be made. However, the true sparkle of this book is the way it evokes the Golden Age of country-house mysteries. Readers will find it hard to remember they are reading a contemporary setting and will fall happily into the warm (well, chilly —heating being what it was then) embrace of a country home.
Phillip Bethancourt and Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Jack Gibbons are each on their way to Yorkshire over Christmas, though not together, and neither of them are looking forward to their respective trips. While Phillip is spending the holiday with relatives — a dreaded task — Jack must determine whether a particular murder is the work of a serial killer. It took place on Christmas Day in an old bookstore, an institution in those parts, and all the suspects have some tie to the place.
But then another murder occurs that bears some resemblance to the serial case. Jodie Farrady, who disappeared about a year ago, is found strangled in that same shop where she used to work. Jack could certainly use his good friend’s help and luckily, Phillip is all too eager to escape his own holiday and join the hunt. (MINOTAUR, Aug., 336 pp., $25.99)