I really enjoyed this second book in the Father Tom Christmas mystery series. This traditional British “cozy” mystery is evenly paced; never hurried or rushed. At 470+ pages, it’s a tad long but it really didn't feel like there was anything extraneous, even though Father Christmas did a lot of things other than look into the mystery. The story takes place around two ceremonies/celebrations: Robert Burns supper and wassailing. I didn’t know much about either, so it was interesting to read about them.
The other major event that takes place in the story is a heavy snowfall. I loved Benison’s descriptions of all of the piles of snow and how people were responding to it. Something I can definitely relate to.
I especially loved the letters by Madrun, the Vicarage housekeeper, to her mother. She's hilarious! I loved how the author used these letters to sum up the parts of the story as well as add some new information. A lot of authors use this technique, but aren’t always as successful as Bension. He does a fantastic job of making them fit right in.
One addition I would have liked to see in this book is a map of the village, even a crude artist's rendition. I had a little trouble picturing how the various locations in the story were situated in relation to others. The author did describe the locations quite well, but I'm a visual person and love maps.
Father Christmas is one of my favourite amateur detectives. He’s a young widower raising a young daughter in a small town in the UK. He doesn’t really do any traditional investigating. He basically just goes about his life and duties all the while making keen observations about the people he talks to and the things he sees.
My favourite quote from the book:
The taste was compounded of damp grass, prawn casings, and iron filings with boiled liver notes and a dishwater finish. (page 305, a description of the tea that Molly served Father Christmas)
I love learning new words. Here's a sampling of the new-to-me words in this book:
apostasy (page 23): renunciation of faith/political belief or allegiance
epenthetic (page 46): adding a sound to a word
abrogated (page 91): do away with something
sclera (page 131): tough outer coating of the eyeball
cranachan (page 143): traditional Scottish dessert
opprobrium (page 146): scorn
cagoule (page 172): lightweight anorak (UK)
adipose (page 200): fat
quotidian (page 204): commonplace
tabaccanalia (page 291): Hmmm...I couldn't find a definition for this one
uxorious (page 300): excessively devoted to your wife
cheder (page 341): Jewish religious education classes
ruana (page 356): poncho
cresset (page 360): a metal cup or basket containing something flammable
invidious (page 430): unpleasant
I've read two other books by C.C. Benison. Here's the review for Twelve Drummers Drumming. I read the other one, Death at Buckingham Palace, before I started blogging. You can read what I thought of it over at Bookcrossing. I'd highly recommend them both. I have a few other books by Benison on my to-be-read shelf. I hope to get to them one day.
Highly recommended. I’m anxiously awaiting, Ten Lords A-Leaping, which was already mentioned in this book. It should be a hoot!
C.C. Benison is the pseudonym of Doug Whiteway. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, my hometown.
For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.
For more information about the author, please visit C.C. Benison's website.
I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.
Eleven Pipers Piping by C.C. Benison, Doubleday Canada (Random House) ©2012. ISBN 9780385670159(Hardcover), 474p.