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Sunday 5 November 2023

‘A Christmas Visitor’ by Anne Perry

Published by Headline,
1st November 2004. 
ISBN 0-7553-2364-5

This novella by Anne Perry is a moral tale about Christmas set in Queen Victoria’s reign.  She published a similar book last Christmas called A Christmas Journey and both novellas take a tangential character from the Monk series and tell a completely new story around that character.  In  A Christmas Visitor Henry Rathbone, father of Oliver Rathbone, the lawyer, travels to the home of the Dreghorn family near Ullswater for an unhappy Christmas after the sudden death of his friend, Judah Dreghorn.  As the Dreghorn family gather they are shocked by the news of Judah’s death and of an accusation of appalling behaviour by this apparently upright judge.  The story concerns their investigations and their relationships.

As in all Christmas tales’ food is important in establishing the festive season. Use of the regional food specialities of the period combined with lyrical descriptions of the Lake District terrain and evocations of the biting cold really give depth to the background.   Anne Perry writes a convincing story, as always, though it is not and cannot be as dense as her full-length novels.

The ethical message is the particular aim here and it is successfully achieved.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer

Anne Perry (1938-2023) was born in Blackheath, London England in October 1938.  Anne had various jobs but there was never anything she seriously wished to do except write. Her publishing career began with The Cater Street Hangman. Published in 1979, this was the first book in the series to feature the Victorian policeman Thomas Pitt and his well-born wife Charlotte. It was filmed and broadcast on ITV featuring a young Keely Hawes. Anne started a second series of detective novels with The Face of a Stranger. These are set about 35 years before and feature the private detective William Monk and volatile nurse Hester Latterly. The main character in the story features in an ambitious five-book series set during the First World War.

 Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic.  

Jennifer died in 2020.

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