As the book opens, Joseph Herriard is busy preparing the house for a Christmas party. It’s not his house — it belongs to his crotchety brother, Nathaniel, but Joseph is determined to gather the family for a festive cozy time. Unfortunately his family includes all kinds of confounding characters — besides the grouchy rich uncle Nathaniel, there is Joseph’s spacey former showgirl wife, a snotty presumed heir, a volatile aspiring actress, the token sensible cousin, and a couple of hangers-on — Nathaniel’s long-time business partner and a playwright who hopes to milk Nathaniel for an investment.
As everyone assembles, Joseph tries to jolly them into helping with decorations or playing parlor games, but everyone has their own concerns and almost none of them are kind enough to just humor someone else for a minute and hang some damn tinsel. And then there’s a murder. Merry Christmas!
This book is very much in the cozy Agatha Christie line, with a little more emphasis on humor (and I say this recognizing that Christie is also funny) and a little less on following clue after clue or having an interesting lead detective. Although the solution to the mystery is satisfying, the motivating through-line pulling you through the book is less I Must Find Out The Answer and instead more This Is Fun and Gently Funny I Want To Hang Out Here For A Minute. And that works for me! I’ll probably grab a couple more of Heyer’s mysteries now.