Ten Lords A-Leaping
Although Father Tom Christmas serves his little church in enchanting Thornford Regis with a glad and faithful heart, he never expects to find himself skydiving to raise money for it. Nor, safely back on the ground, to see two of the other divers leap from the plane, then tangle in a midair punch-up and begin falling to the earth.
To say there is tension between the men in question – Oliver, the 7th Marquess of Morborne, and his brother-in-law, Hector, the 10th Earl of Fairhaven – would be an understatement. But the troubles among this ancient landed family really began a generation ago, when a marquess divorced his first spouse to marry his brother’s wife, fathering in two marriages a viper’s nest of arrogant young aristocrats. Now they have turned up for the show to witness this shocking event in the sky.
Thankfully the men land safely, but death will not be slighted. Much to Father Tom’s dismay, he later discovers Lord Morborne lying deceased on castle grounds. Rumours of bigamy, art forgeries, and upstairs/downstairs intrigue fly. So do whispers of unvicarly behaviour between Tom and Oliver’s beautiful half-sister, Lady Lucinda. In fact, the vicar may be heading for a very hard landing of his own.
Eleven Pipers Piping
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, whisky-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 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 of 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.
Twelve Drummers Drumming
Introducing Father Tom Christmas, the wise, warm-hearted new vicar of a picturesque English village that seems to be a haven of peace. But appearances can be very deceiving.
Thornford Regis has never been lovelier: larks on the wing, lilacs in bloom, and the May Fayre is in full swing. But inside the empty village hall, the huge Japanese o-daiko drum that’s featured in the festivities has been viciously sliced open – and curled up inside is the bludgeoned body of Sybella Parry, the beautiful nineteen-year-old daughter of the choir director.
That she is too young to die, everyone agrees. But has Sybella’s apparent affinity for Goth and the black arts, and her rumoured use of drugs, attracted an unscrupulous element that led to her heart-rending demise?
Father Tom Christmas, still haunted by the tragedy that has left him a widower and his nine-year-old daughter motherless, soon realizes that this idyllic village is not the refuge he hoped for – and he also comes to a disturbing conclusion: that Sybella’s killer must be one of his parishioners. No one is above suspicion – not Sebastian John, Father Tom’s deeply reserved verger, nor Mitsuko Drew, a local artist, nor irritable Colonel Northmore, survivor of a Second World War prison camp. One by one, infidelity, theft, and intrigue are exposed. And over all, like an approaching storm, hangs the unresolved mystery of the previous vicar’s sudden disappearance less than two year’s earlier.
Death in Cold Type
Newspaper reporter Leo Fabian doesn’t think of himself as an opportunist. But when the object of his desire, Stevie Lord, loses the object of her desire to murder, he finds a whole new way to penetrate a woman’s heart. Who would want to kill Michael Rossiter anyway? Scion of an old Winnipeg newspaper family, he may have been rich, but he didn’t really seem to have enemies. But as Leo delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding Michael’s death, he learns some surprising things about his friend that quite possibly led to his demise. Michael’s brutal fate mires Leo in a case that comes to embroil his fellow reporters at the Winnipeg Citizen, including troubled feature writer Liz Elliot, volatile lifestyle editor Guy Clark, and Michael’s narcissistic sister, Merritt Parrish, whom Michael tried to help get back on the straight and narrow. One of his oldest friends, Alex Werner, also becomes involved, as does Stevie, the woman Leo loves. The past intrudes in new and disturbing ways. Old scandals cast long shadows and long-ago deaths take on frightening implications. From old-money Crescentwood to a new-money mall, from the Citizen‘s dilapidated newsroom to a peaceful prairie retreat, Leo follows a complex trail of clues, until he not only knows, but knows he has only moments to thwart another brutal murder.
Death at Windsor Castle
Housemaid Jane Bee’s summer duties run to dusting the props for a sumptuous week of pageantry at Windsor Castle, beginning with the investiture of new Knights of the Garter. On the very morning of the ceremony, Her Majesty calls Jane to the Throne Room to attend to a rather large stain – the blood-soaked carpet beneath the very dead Roger Pettitbon, found with a ceremonial sword in his back and Garter around his knee.
Hot-tempered Victor Fabiani, a Court painter at work on a portrait of the face that launched a billion postage stamps, confesses to the royal art curator’s murder. His tale of art forgery and blackmail is plausible to the police, but doesn’t ring true to Jane – or to Her Majesty. Dispatched on a discreet enquiry by HM herself, Jane swiftly discovers there’s no shortage of motives … or suspects. As Jane stubbornly digs for the truth, the castle’s ancient battlements will witness yet more death at Windsor Castle.
Death at Sandringham House
When housemaid Jane Bee accompanies the Royal on their annual Christmas jaunt to Sandringham, she believes she’s in for a bit of a snooze. Aside from her regular duties, there’s nothing much to do in the wilds of Norfolk … until the body of a woman turns up in the village hall – a woman who just happens to be a dead ringer for the Queen, right down to her glittering tiara.
While the royal bodyguards tighten their security and the police concentrate their efforts on a notorious animal rights group, Her Majesty bids Jane to do her own discreet digging. But when Jane learns the origin of the dead woman’s tiara, she finds herself suddenly unstitching an upstairs/downstairs tapestry of indiscretions going back fifty years. And then a second brazen murder occurs in the very heart of Sandringham House, and it looks like the coming New Year could be more horribilis than any yet.
Death at Buckingham Palace
Jane Bee came to Europe for adventure, only to end up with the job of a lifetime – housemaid at Buckingham Palace. Now her greatest challenge is removing gum from State Room carpets – until she comes across a nasty accident right outside the Royal Apartments. The Queen herself has – literally – stumbled across the dead boy of Jane’s good friend, footman and aspiring actor Robin Tukes, in what appears to be a suicide.
But why would handsome, impetuous Robin, having just toasted his engagement to a gorgeous housemaid, not to mention his impending fatherhood, want to die? Buck House buzzes, but only Jane – and the Royal Personage known below stairs as ‘Mother’ – suspects foul play. At Her Majesty’s behest, Jane launches a discreet enquiry that takes her from the Servants’ Hall to the highest echelons of the Palace. Yet the more Jane uncovers, the more clear it becomes that this latest royal scandal is a real killer.