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A Christmas Beginning
Christmas Novellas, #5

by Anne Perry

    Anne Perry writes a novella each year, which comes out in December, centering upon a different secondary character from one of her sets of books, and set at Christmas. This time it is Superintendent Runcornís turn, and he is vacationing on the Isle of Anglesey. He has no family of his own, and is trying to get over his love for the beautiful and unattainable Melisande Ewart; a hard task as it appears that she, too, is here for Christmas with her hostile brother. Worse is yet to come, as she is already engaged to another man, Sir Alan Faraday, who is the local Chief Constable. But when a murder is committed it is Runcorn that looks to be able to solve it, with Alan out of his depth. Will this be enough to woo Melisande?

There is so much more in an Anne Perry novel than in most other mysteries. There is the murder, of course, and in this case I didnít guess whodunit. Then there is her knowledge of the period with its different mores and ideals, and her searing ability to describe emotion and locations. This adds up to a heady mixture, and even in novella form it is very evident. I also enjoyed reading something told from the point of view (albeit in the third person) of a character not normally in the limelight, and not usually viewed as sympathetic. There are some poetic descriptions of Anglesey in winter to enjoy as well, adding up to a seasonal treat that Dickens himself would surely have envied. All we need now is a novella focussing on a character from her WWI series. A Christmas tradition to be savored.

Christmas Novella Series

A Christmas Guest #3
A Christmas Odyssey #8
A Christmas Revelation #13


UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and

The Book

1 November 2007
Historical Crime / 1860s, Anglesey, UK
More at US || UK
NOTE: Holiday read; Christmas

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008