Eleven Pipers Piping

Eleven Pipers Piping (Father Christmas Mystery #2)Eleven Pipers Piping by C.C. Benison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bit hefty at nearly 500 pages for a “cozy” mystery, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Burns Night. Haggis. Bagpipers. Need I say more? Like the first book of the series, I thought this was well plotted. It is complex enough that you probably won’t figure out who done it, even if the red herrings are a bit obvious. The main characters continue to grow and develop, although I still think there is too much name dropping of superfluous villagers. Yes, I had to go back to my notes of book one to help sort them out – but that isn’t entirely a bad thing. I feel like I am being immersed in a whole village. Still, there is a certain disconnect for me between the well-developed main characters and the cardboard cutouts of everyone else. This book was a lot less “work” because the extensive back story has already been laid down. And I had my notes. I love Father Tom and I’m going to expect a love interest somewhere down the line as he continues to heal from the loss of his wife. His housekeeper is a hoot, and I love the plot device of her daily letters to her mother, complete with crossed-out typos, which gives us another point of view to the goings on. I wouldn’t categorize these books as “Christian” fiction, but since Tom is a vicar, and his is the viewpoint that most of the action is filtered through, there is a certain amount of moralizing and human angst alongside his empathy and compassion. He is a man of faith despite his own tragedies.

Book Description: 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, whiskey-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 a 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 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.

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