Cecily Sinclair Baxter returns in Shrouds of Holly to solve another murder. Her previous Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries are No Clue at the Inn and Slay Bells.
It's Christmas and Cecily and her employees are decorating the Pennyfoot ballroom for a festive Christmas reception. With a staff shortage (primarily due to illness) Baxter, Cecily's husband, has reluctantly accompanied Samuel, the stable manager, to collect fresh boughs of holly to complete the decorations.
While Mrs. Chubb, the Pennyfoot housekeeper, was out collecting eggs, the sleigh returned with a dead body (Gavin Hargrove) but minus Baxter and Samuel.
Samuel turns up with a head injury and his only memory is of bending over Baxter's body. Is Baxter badly injured or is he dead? The only thing known for sure is that he has disappeared.
With Baxter missing, the stable manager injured and a dead body outside her establishment, Cecily is determined to investigate. It's important to find the murderer but it's more important to find her husband.
The deceased Gavin Hargrove seems to have had some enemies. He owed money to a London syndicate for gambling debts. His fiancée doesn't seem very upset over his death. What's that about? And his brother is dependent on Gavin's goodwill. With Gavin dead, he inherits his father's wealth.
It's going to be a difficult task to find the murderer since the police think they know who killed Gavin but Cecily is not giving up. Her husband's life may depend on it.
Kingsbury's historical Christmas novels are set in England and are delightful cozy mysteries. I love the laid back feel of the books. They are satisfying plots that keep you turning the page.
FYI: Kate Kingsbury is Doreen Robert's pen name.
Armchair Interviews says: For a good Christmas murder, Shrouds of Holly is a winner.