Table of Contents
Mistletoe and Mayhem
“A terrific holiday cozy that contains more than one mystery . . . another entertaining yuletide whodunit.”
Genre Go Round Reviews
“Kate Kingsbury is the Queen of English cozy mysteries and her special Pennyfoot Christmas editions are always a special treat . . . Her gift of storytelling keeps the action and suspense moving along at a quick pace.”
Decked with Folly
“Kingsbury expertly strews red herrings to suggest plenty of others had reason to wish Ian dead . . . This makes the perfect stocking stuffer for the cozy fan in your life.”
Ringing in Murder
Ringing in Murder
combines the feel of an Agatha Christie whodunit with a taste of
“Engaging . . . Cozy fans will be pleased to ring in the New Year with this cheerful Kingsbury trifle.”
Shrouds of Holly
“Charming . . . Will provide warm holiday entertainment.”
“Delightful . . . Starring an intrepid heroine.”
Midwest Book Review
“Well crafted and surprising all the way to the last page,
Shrouds of Holly
is a pleasurable read that is sure to get you in the mood for the holidays!”
The Romance Readers Connection
“Likable characters, charming surroundings, and eclectic guests continue to make this an enjoyable series. Bravo, Kate Kingsbury . . . for making this a holiday tradition.”
“A pre–World War I whodunit in the classic style, furnished with amusing characters.”
“The author draws as much from
as she does from Agatha Christie, crafting a charming . . . cozy delicately flavored with period details of pre–World War I rural England.”
“A true holiday gem.”
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Kate Kingsbury
Manor House Mysteries
A BICYCLE BUILT FOR MURDER
DEATH IS IN THE AIR
FOR WHOM DEATH TOLLS
DIG DEEP FOR MURDER
PAINT BY MURDER
FIRE WHEN READY
AN UNMENTIONABLE MURDER
Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries
ROOM WITH A CLUE
DO NOT DISTURB
SERVICE FOR TWO
EAT, DRINK, AND BE BURIED
GROUNDS FOR MURDER
PAY THE PIPER
CHIVALRY IS DEAD
RING FOR TOMB SERVICE
DEATH WITH RESERVATIONS
DYING ROOM ONLY
MAID TO MURDER
Holiday Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries
NO CLUE AT THE INN
SHROUDS OF HOLLY
RINGING IN MURDER
DECKED WITH FOLLY
MISTLETOE AND MAYHEM
HERALD OF DEATH
Titles by Kate Kingsbury writing as Rebecca Kent
HIGH MARKS FOR MURDER
MURDER HAS NO CLASS
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2011 by Doreen Roberts Hight.
All rights reserved.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
ISBN : 978-1-101-54568-3
1. Baxter, Cecily Sinclair (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Pennyfoot Hotel (England : Imaginary place)—Fiction. 3. Murder—Investigation—Fiction. 4. Christmas stories. I. Title.
To Bill, for understanding the true meaning of love.
Once again I’m privileged to have worked with a wonderful editor, Faith Black. My deepest thanks for all your hard work, and for your enthusiasm and guidance. It means a lot to me.
My thanks, also, to my astute agent, Paige Wheeler. I truly appreciate all that you and Celeste Fine have done for me this year.
My dear friend in England, Ann Wraight, I thank you for your wonderful magazines that keep me in touch with my homeland.
As always, the art department has done an outstanding job on the cover. Truly brilliant. My grateful thanks to Judith Murello and her amazing team.
My apologies to all those wonderful fans who wrote with concerns about my health. I didn’t mean to alarm you with the acknowledgments in my last book. I assure you, I am quite well, and looking forward to taking you for another visit to the Pennyfoot Country Club. Thank you all so much for your e-mails. You have no idea how much I enjoy them.
To my husband, who can always make me smile when I feel like crying. Thank you for always being there when I need you.
The snow started falling the week before the first Christmas guest was due to arrive at the Pennyfoot Country Club. It began with just a few flakes that drifted on the wind and eventually disappeared into the gray ocean. Soon, however, the flakes grew thicker, fell faster, and a soft white carpet blanketed the sands.
Horses struggled along the Esplanade, dragging carriages that slid from side to side, until the icy ruts had worn deep enough to prevent the wheels from wandering.
Beyond the cliffs the snow clung to the bare branches of the oaks, gently covered the grass on Putney Downs, and partially buried the lifeless body of the elderly gentleman lying on the path, leaving only a bedraggled dog to mourn his departure.
At the far end of the Esplanade, Cecily Sinclair Baxter stood at the window of her sitting room overlooking the Pennyfoot grounds. The bowling greens resembled icing on a wedding cake—smooth, shiny, and begging for that first footprint to mar the surface. The sight brought her no pleasure, however.
“This storm couldn’t have come at a worse time,” she murmured, “with so much to be done. I have to go into town tomorrow. My gown for the Welcome Ball needs some alterations, and the snow looks very deep. I do hope Samuel won’t have trouble with the carriage.”
Across the room, her husband remained silent behind the pages of the
Cecily tried again. “I sincerely hope that all this snow goes away in the next few days. Our guests are not going to enjoy the Christmas season if they are floundering about with freezing noses and toes.”
The rattle of a newspaper warned her that Baxter was deeply immersed in an article and did not wish to be disturbed. Since Cecily had never conformed to the adage that a woman should bow to her husband’s wishes at all times, she turned to face him. “Did you not hear me?”
“I heard you.”
The newspaper remained upright in front of Baxter’s face, much to Cecily’s annoyance. “Then please do me the courtesy of giving me a reply.”
Baxter’s sigh seemed to rebound off the walls. He lowered his newspaper and sent his wife a reproachful scowl. “What would you have me say?”
“That you agree that this snowstorm could be disastrous for our Christmas activities.”
Baxter pursed his lips. “In the first place, snowstorms on the southeast coast of England rarely last more than a few days. We still have a week before our guests arrive. By then it will no doubt be as balmy as a spring day.”
He held up his hand. “In the second place, in the unlikely event that the snow is still with us, it should be a simple matter to organize activities that do not require our guests to go outside.”
Cecily tossed her head. “Simple?
Do you have the slightest idea what goes into planning events for the entire Christmas fortnight?”