Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.C. Benison

In Twelve Drummers Drumming, Tom Christmas, magician-turned-vicar, seeks refuge in Thornford Regis, a seemingly idyllic village, after the death of his wife. During the May Fayre, the body of Sybella Parry, the choir director's daughter, is discovered in the village hall in the base of a Japanese o-daiko drum. Father Christmas soon realizes that there are lots of suspects and the village is chockfull of secrets. It's especially unsettling when he realizes that one of his parishioners is likely the killer.

I truly enjoyed this traditional British cozy. The title had me a bit fooled, though. With its reference to "The Twelve Days of Christmas", I was sure it was Christmas related and even saved it to read during the holidays. I was surprised and maybe a little disappointed to learn it wasn't. Once I started reading, though, none of that mattered. It turned out to be a great cozy mystery.

The book was wonderfully written. I loved how Benison dropped little hints here and there and alluded to something sinister just beneath the surface. I love also loved how he used unfinished or interrupted conversations. Just when one of the speakers is going to reveal a juicy secret, the conversation was cut off or interrupted by something or someone. It all added to the suspense of the story.

One of my favourite parts were the letters Mrs. Prowse wrote to her Mum. They are written casually and very much like someone would speak. They offered a great recap to what happened thus far as well as furthering the story along with additional details. At times they were laugh-out-loud funny! They were so well done, I could just about picture the woman writing them. She was a hoot.

I read Benison's Death at Buckingham Palace some time ago and really enjoyed it. It's another traditional British cozy featuring Queen Elizabeth II. I have his other books on my to-be-read shelf that I hope to read at some point.

The book contained a whole slew of new-to-me words. That's not unusual for a British cozy. No worries; I love learning new words:
disputatious (page 13): argumentative
uxorious (page 85): excessively devoted to your wife
profligate (page 85): extravagant
mufti (page 87): expert on Islamic religious law
hermeneutics (page 93): science of interpreting texts
insularity (page 106): narrow-mindedness
middens (page 115): dunghill
tor (page 165): mound or rise
punctilious (page 175): meticulous
antipathy (page 182): opposition
verger (used repeatedly): church official
vacuity (page 201): emptiness
asperity (page 209): roughness
bombazine (page 214): twilled material
dolorous (page 222): sad or painful
farrago (page 228): jumble
antediluvian (page 278): prehistoric
febrile (page 296): feverish
benison (page 358): blessing

This book is the first in a planned twelve-book mystery series. I think it was rather clever and unexpected to start at the top (12th) of the series, rather than the bottom (1st).

C.C. Benison is the pseudonym of Doug Whiteway. He lives in my hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. If I didn't know this, I would have sworn he was British.

Highly recommended. I can't wait for the next one in the series.

For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author, please visit Benison's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.

Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.C. Benison, Doubleday Canada (Random House), ©2011. ISBN 9780385670135(Hardcover), 370p.

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