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A Christmas Resolution


A Christmas Resolution

Over the course of 18 holiday seasons, Anne Perry has treated us to a short mystery novel. Fans like myself cannot imagine Christmas without this yuletide offering, and happily she has come through with another gift for us.

Each of these books is completely unique. Some are filled with talk of the holiday season, while others are just coincidentally set during Christmastime. And each features a different principal character from Perry’s vast catalogue. One year it may be a main protagonist, like William Monk or Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, while another year a periphery player gets the spotlight.

"Once again, Anne Perry has combined the classic elements of a mystery with the ageless sentiments of the yuletide season."

2020’s tale, A CHRISTMAS RESOLUTION, focuses on Celia, the wife of William Monk's righthand officer, Detective John Hooper. Celia is attending mass just days before Christmas and listening to Reverend Arthur Roberson’s sermon about the true meaning of the holiday. She is planning to stand up for her best friend, Clementine, who is preparing for her wedding to Seth Marlowe, a widower. While chatting with Reverend Roberson following mass, she is confronted by Marlowe, who does not approve of her or her relationship with his fiancée. In fact, he goes so far as to threaten to expose Celia for perjuring herself on the witness stand during the case where she first met her husband.

As it turns out, there has always been some whispering about the death of Marlowe's first wife. The reason given was suicide, but many are aware that their relationship was an allegedly abusive one that even drove their only child away for good. Marlowe had received a letter accusing him of all sorts of nasty wrongdoing in relation to his widow, and he accuses Celia of writing it in an effort to scare him away from Clementine. Of course, Celia denies any knowledge of the letter but still feels threatened enough to inform her husband. Now, Hooper and a few of his most trusted colleagues decide to dig a little deeper into the first Mrs. Marlowe’s death and the whereabouts of their prodigal daughter.

Reverend Roberson is deeply concerned about Marlowe's behavior and decides to focus on his Christmas sermon with the hope that he can reach him through his words. Celia remains on the fence as to whether or not it is time to share her trepidation with Clementine, who is enjoying getting ready for her big day. It all comes down to Christmas Day and the sermon; Celia would like the Reverend to remind the congregation that repentance is of no use without understanding, which then will allow the real healing to begin.

As the novel ends with the pealing of the Church bells calling everyone to the midnight mass service that heralds Christmas morning, we are left with a warm feeling in our hearts. Once again, Anne Perry has combined the classic elements of a mystery with the ageless sentiments of the yuletide season. A CHRISTMAS RESOLUTION is another must-read for the holidays that should give blessings and rewards to us well past Boxing Day.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 6, 2020

A Christmas Resolution
by Anne Perry