A Spider on the Stairs
Minotaur, Jul 20 2010, $25.99
Amateur sleuth Phillip Betancourt knows being the family black sheep makes spending Christmas in Yorkshire at his parent’s home as gloomy as the torrent of rain outside. Adding to his family’s torrential interrogation of him is questions about his personal life as he no longer is seeing Marla Tate. When cheerful Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Jack Gibbons calls about a murder in nearby York, Phillip sees an opportunity to escape the torture by joining his friend on the investigation.
The corpse of Deborah Seldon, found in Accessorize in Davygate Shop, might be the work of notorious serial killer Ashdon. When Jack concludes the victim was killed most likely by Ashdon, he notifies the Yard’s serial killer Detective Superintendent Brumby; though the case has anomalies. Soon afterward, the proprietor of Mittlesdon's bookshop finds the body of his former employee Jody Farraday inside on Christmas Day. Gibbons and Betancourt investigate only to find too many people had access to the store.
The latest Betancourt-Gibbons collaborative investigation (see Village Affairs, Young Widow and Trick of the Mind) is a superb Yuletide whodunit. The story line is character driven more so by the seemingly hedonistic Betancourt though his buddy the cop holds his own as each is euphoric with having the case. Ironically, a contemporary mystery, fans of the classic British “historical” social class mystery like Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey and Carola Dunn’s Lady Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher tales will want to read Cassandra Chan’s fun tale.