Having read quite a few of Heyer’s Regency thoroughly researched frippery books, to the point where I was hitting a string of forgettable ones, I was pretty excited to pick up something completely different! This time, a Christmas-themed murder mystery that I read in the middle of the summer, including through the two warmest days ever recorded in the UK! Climate change is great!
There’s a similar set up to this novels as to the Regency ones. You start out with a clearly defined setting and a very large cast of characters, all of whom are quickly sketched out and somewhat overwhelming. As the story continues their characters become clearer to understand and differentiate, because they all have some pretty clearly drawn characterizations. They also have motivations ranging from reasonable to comical, but they’re pretty reasonable.
This was a 3* review for me because that ineffable spark that Heyer catches in most of her novels seemed missing here. Whether because of the one-location story, or the characters being not quite charming enough to bounce off of one another for that long, or because the mystery is not quite engaging, the premise does start to wear a little thin…until the ending, when everything seems to move quite quickly (including the slightly shoehorned-in romance angle). So all in all, enjoyed it but probably not one I’m going to reach for again!