Friday, 4 December 2015

Review: The Christmas Escape by Anne Perry

Publisher: Random House

Rating: 3.5*

Mysteries and Crime Thrillers
Charles Latterly, a recent widower, is taking a vacation on Stromboli, one of Italy’s islands over Christmas. The inn where he is staying is in the shadow of a volcano that has been sputtering on and off for years. He is thrilled to meet Stefano, their host, who is a wonderful cook and tries his best to take care of and calm his guests. The other guests consist of The Baileys, who are a mismatched couple. Mr. Bailey bullies his wife as well as treating everyone else abominably, often baiting them. Colonel Bretherton is an old military man, who seems to care very much about Mrs. Bailey. The Finbars, Roger, an older gentleman who is his great-niece’s guardian, and his precocious niece, Candace, who meets Charles upon his arrival and charms him immediately. The last vacationer is Quinn, a best-selling author who wrote a rather racy book from the perspective of his major character, Lucy, who reminds Candace of her feisty grandmama. Considering this is a novella, Anne Perry does an admirable job of introducing us to her characters and letting us get to know them. 

There is a lot of animosity between some of the characters, which plays out at the dinner table during meals. Most involves the obnoxious Mr. Bailey. Quinn and Mr. Bailey often have curt words with each other with Candace coming to his defense and inadvertently causing more issues. Charles tries to be the peacemaker in a couple of situations but is not always successful. Mr. and Mrs. Bailey do not seem to have an amicable relationship and the smitten Colonel must be careful not to intervene in their situation. When Bailey turns up dead, although it is covered up to look like an accident, there are any number of suspects. Of course, that investigation has to be put on hold as the volcano wakes up and furiously begins to spew lava and hot rocks. The mad dash down the mountain and the dead bodies left in its wake bring this story to a fast and furious ending. 

This short novella is well-written with descriptions that are very realistic and make the reader feel like they can actually see the beautiful Stromboli. The biggest disappointment about this novella is the fact that, other than being set in the Christmas time frame, there is not much about it that is Christmas-like. The story may just as well have taken pace at a different time of the year as during this holiday season. I have not read any of the Anne Perry mystery series so can not relate to her other books as many of the other reviewers have done but I enjoyed the book as a standalone.

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Reviewed for MCT by Carla JH.

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