by Edith Cody-Rice
“Tis the season to curl up with a good book on the Christmas days, in front of the fire, if you have one, with an egg nog or rum toddy in hand. And Ten Lords A’Leaping is the perfect English based mystery for the Christmas season. This is the third of the mysteries based on the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Having published Twelve Drummers Drumming in 2011 and Eleven Pipers Piping in 2012, C.C. Benison has graced this season with Ten Lords A-Leaping. The mystery series features Father Tom Christmas, a Vicar in a the small English country village of Thornford Regis. In Ten Lords A’Leaping, a group of charity sky diving English aristocrats gather at a country manor and there a murder occurs. Father Tom Christmas discovers the body and becomes enmeshed in the investigation.
The pace of the book is slow and wordy, in the manor of English country tales we see on PBS. If you are a devotee of rollicking action, this is not the book for you, but if you love stories featuring the byzantine world of English aristocracy and a cracking good mystery to boot, this is a good choice for the holiday armchair. Red herrings abound and the reader spends much of the time spotting clues littered about the book, many of which lead nowhere, but it is good mental exercise.
C.C. Benison is the pen name of Canadian journalist Douglas Whiteway who was born in Canada and currently lives in Winnipeg. Rather amazing as he seems to have an unerring grasp of idiomatic English and cadence, at least from the point of view of those PBS English mysteries and the books in the Agatha Christie genre. Although the story is set in the 2013, the language reminds one of the Poirot stories set in the early 20th century. Witticisms abound. The author sets the scene vividly so that we picture the setting and characters as though on a screen. But you can put it down and get up to stir the turkey gravy without regret. It is light, it is engaging and it is Christmas!
Ten Lords A-Leaping is published by Doubleday Canada