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Eleven Pipers Piping by C. C. Benison
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A fun series....this one is a bit better developed and somewhat more believable than the first one. I still had a bit of problem trying to sort out the characters, but that may have been due to the distraction of the holidays.

Of course, that problem is one that will always be there since I don't want to be reading Christmas stories in July! ( )
  tututhefirst | Jan 20, 2014 |
A post-Christmas snowstorm leaves many of the roads to Thornford Regis unpassable, but won't stop the Thistle But Mostly Rose South Devon Pipe Band from having their Burns Supper at Thorn Court. Only half the pipers arrive for this haggis feast and when Will Moir goes missing, the men aren't too concerned until a search of the property reveals a body and an unexpected guest. Local vicar Father Tom Christmas ambles his way to an interesting conclusion that covered several red herrings dealing with insurance, adoption and land deals. This one got a little long, but I am interested to see who jumps out of the plane in the next installment, Ten Lords a Leaping. ( )
  ethel55 | Jan 12, 2014 |
I really enjoy this series written by an author from Winnipeg, where I live. Of course, there is nothing about Winnipeg in these books but it's just nice to know that there are good writers here.

Father Tom Christmas has been the Anglican priest in a small village in England for a little less than a year. He moved there from Bristol after his wife was brutally murdered in the church that he worked at then. Her killer has never been found but Tom and his daughter have tried to move on. That gets a little hard to do when bodies keep popping up. This time it is the owner of the local hotel who is found dead during the local pipe band's Burns Supper. He appears to have been poisoned with a toxin from the yew tree. Madrun, the vicar's housekeeper, is known to use yew berries in her pastries and she provided some for the Burns Supper. Madrun is very careful to remove the seeds from all the berries before she freezes them but perhaps she made a mistake. A big snowstorm that closed down the highways and took out the power doesn't make it any easier for a proper investigation to be done.

That's just the main mystery in this book. There are others such as why a woman who lived in the village as a child 40 years ago picked that particular night to show up? And who sent the note to Madrun asking her to provide the tartlets for the Burns Supper? Father Christmas has a lot on his hands this time.

There is a fascinating chapter about the Wassail Night in the local orchard. I had never heard of this tradition which involves lanterns, a king and queen in the orchard trees, pouring cider on the roots of the trees and shooting guns off to wake up the orchards. It sounds like it would be fun to visit one. ( )
  gypsysmom | Dec 6, 2013 |
In the second installment of C.C. Benison's "Father Christmas" mysteries, the vicar's housekeeper, Mrs. Prowse, is having difficulties with her Yorkshire puddings -- they keep turning out flat. But she tries again, and eventually manages to regain her touch. I mention this seemingly inconsequential incident because it is similar to my experience reading this series: the first book fell flat for me, what with all the backstory, enormous cast of characters, and perhaps not the most intriguing (for me) murder. But this second volume rose triumphantly above its predecessor and brought a spring to my reading step.

First off, the murder involves a Burns Supper, which is a great deal more interesting than a drum containing a dead body. Second, the backstory is much more deftly handled here. Just enough is brought forward from the first book to orient new readers without overwhelming them with information. And third, the cast of characters was more manageable. It did help to have read the first book, if only so that I knew how the format of the books went (third person narration combined with letter-writing interludes by Mrs. Prowse that provide additional information and perspective). The story twisted and turned most satisfactorily and I did not guess how it would be resolved.

To sum up, if this book sounds more interesting to you than Twelve Drummers Drumming, go ahead and read out of order! ( )
1 vote rabbitprincess | Nov 30, 2013 |
Way too long. ( )
  picardyrose | Oct 30, 2013 |
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For Marjorie Poor, constant reader
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The Vicarage
Thornford Regis TC9 6QX

10 January

Dear Mum,
I hope you're prepared for snow!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385344465, Hardcover)

The welcome return of C. C. Benison’s delectable series featuring Father Tom Christmas—“an irresistible addition to the ranks of clerical sleuths” (Julia Spencer-Fleming)
Father Tom Christmas, the recently widowed vicar adjusting to life in the English village of Thornford Regis, would do almost anything to avoid attending the annual Robert Burns Supper at the local hotel. But as chaplain to a traditional Scottish pipe band, Father Tom must deliver the grace—and contend with wailing bagpipes, whiskey-laced parishioners reciting poetry, and the culinary abomination that is haggis.
As snow falls to unprecedented depths, the revelers carry on—briefly interrupted by an enigmatic stranger seeking shelter. Then Will Moir, proprietor of the hotel and a dedicated piper, inexplicably goes missing—only to be found later in the hotel’s dark tower, alone and dead from what appears to be a heart attack.
Father Tom’s own heart sinks when he learns the actual cause of Will’s demise. When word gets out, the flurry of innocent speculation descends into outlandish gossip. And, for all its tranquil charm, Thornford Regis has plenty to gossip about—illicit trysts, muted violence, private sorrows, and old, unresolved tragedies. The question is: Who would benefit most from the piper’s death? Suspicion swirls around many, including Will’s beautiful widow, their shadowy son, Will’s obnoxious brother-in-law, and even the mysterious party crasher, who knows more than she lets on about the grudges she left behind—but never forgot.
Brimming with wit, full of genuine surprise, and featuring one of the most memorable (and unlikely) detectives in mystery fiction, C. C. Benison’s second Father Christmas mystery will delight readers with a puzzle that truly defies solution.
Praise for C. C. Benison’s first Father Christmas mystery, Twelve Drummers Drumming
“Splendid . . . An intelligent and empathic protagonist and skillful prose make this a winner.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Benison does an admirable job balancing humor with suspense. . . . Father Christmas’s first case leaves you eager for his next.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A crime novel that Agatha Christie might have been justly proud to claim as her own.”—Margaret Maron, New York Times bestselling author of Christmas Mourning
“Highly recommended . . . [a] marvelous series debut.”—Library Journal
“The perfect treat for suspense fans in a holiday mood.”—BookPage

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:55 -0400)

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When a performer at the annual Burns dinner at Thornford Regis is found dead under suspicious circumstances, town vicar Tom Christmas uncovers generations-old secrets in his quest for the truth.

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