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Twelve Drummers Drumming    by C. C. Benison order for
Twelve Drummers Drumming
by C. C. Benison
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

The first of a new mystery series whose titles will be taken from the well known Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, this initial outing features Father Tom Christmas seeking tranquility after a harrowing experience in his last parish.

The wife of the Anglican priest was discovered brutally murdered in his former church. Father Christmas has taken his young daughter and accepted a new posting at Thornford Regis where he hopes he and Miranda can get over the tragedy that has struck their family.

Convinced that the small, backwater village offers a quiet and safe place to raise Miranda, Father Christmas discovers that Thornford Regis is anything but a safe haven.

When the teenage daughter of a local ends up murdered in the parish hall during the MayFayre, the vicar gets the troubling feeling he's jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.

Then the body of the former parish vicar turns up in the cemetery. The man had mysteriously disappeared and now his corpse has been uncovered where someone figured it would never be found.

Fighting a troubling sense of déjà vu, Father Christmas realizes he's going to have to try to figure out what's happening here. Although he may not want to admit it, there appears to be a killer in his small congregation.

C. C. Benison has created a wonderful mélange of village characters and, as one would expect, some of them are harboring deep, dark secrets that their new parish priest is going to have to deal with.

Playing detective isn't what Father Christmas signed up for when he agreed to settle in at Thornford Regis, but the priest is up to the task and, with a little help from his daughter, he'll solve the case.

If you enjoy the traditional English cozy mystery, you'll love the debut of this new amateur sleuth. This has all the elements of the genre plus a few new wrinkles that make for some good reading. Also, don't be afraid that Benison will tip his hand and make it too easy to figure out who the killer is. The Winnipeg resident is too clever to make that mistake.

His next novel, Eleven Pipers Piping, is already in the works and I, for one, can't wait to read it!

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