Bantam, Dec 2002, 23.95, 352 pp.
Everyone in the town of Bakerhaven is caught up in the holiday season from the people taking part in the Christmas pageant to the folks posing in the live nativity. One of the highlights of the poignant is the humorous take on The Twelve Days of Christmas directed by Broadway producer, Rupert Winston.
Cora's niece Sherry is one of the women starring as the Virgin Mary. She receives quite a jolt when the actress playing the role before her is murdered. The girl that was killed was a high school teen who had every privilege and was one of the most popular students in her school. The father of Dorrie's best friend is visiting while on vacation from Scotland Yard and takes an active role in the investigation. All the circumstantial evidence leads him to Sherry as the perpetrator. Cora is not about to let her niece be tried for murder so she goes into sleuth mode to ferret out the murder.
Parnell Hall has written another excellent amateur sleuth novel starring his recurring character the Puzzle Lady. Cora is a natural comedienne who lightens the plot up when the action becomes very intense. This is a very convoluted mystery with so many twists and turns, dead ends, and viable suspects that readers will want to finish the book in one sitting so they can puzzle out who did what to whom.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner