This novel begins promisingly enough, with a quiet country Christmas interrupted by eccentric relatives, secrets and corpses. But somewhere along the way Crombie begins to focus too much on extraneous details, and the momentum, as well as the reader's interest, comes to a standstill. Plus, although readers familiar with this series may already have a clear idea
of what makes Duncan and Gemma tick, newcomers may desire more
character development.

The 11th novel in this series finds detectives and romantic partners Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James traveling to his country home with their children for a restful family Christmas. Unfortunately, as so often happens with Gemma and Duncan, they cannot escape their day jobs. The discovery of two disparate corpses -- along with some mysteries unraveling in Duncan's own family -- spell the beginning of a Christmas holiday that's destined to be anything but quiet and uneventful. (Morrow, Feb., 416 pp., $24.95)
Reviewed by: 
Stephanie Schneider