The Christmas Stories series has long been a holiday staple for me. Each year I wait with anticipation which minor character from the author’s other Victorian mystery series will get their turn to do a spot of detection over the Christmas holidays. Knowing that A Christmas Message was to be a jaunt with Lady Vespasia and her new husband Victor Narraway made this story hold some extra charm for me.
The story begins with Vespasia and Victor stopped over in Joppa on their journey to Jerusalem with the holiday trip being Victor’s gift to Vespasia. They are a winter romance and only married for two years now, but along this journey, they are learning each other in ways that they hadn’t know before. With their destination as Jerusalem for Christmas, Vespasia can’t help but wonder about Victor’s religious beliefs and also analyzes her own thoughts.
Another guest of their lodgings is murdered, but before his death, he managed to slip a final written request and a mysterious message written in a foreign language to Victor. They are requested to deliver the message to the House of Bread on the Via Dolorossa on Christmas Eve. The danger inherent in delivering a murdered man’s message does not prevent them both from determining that they wish to fulfill the request. Their journey up to Jerusalem is fraught with mishap and threat, but also with the growing realization that their journey is spiritual and not just physical.
Alright, I am of two minds about this book. While I was glad to have this time with Vespasia and Victor and witness their tender love, mutual respect, and closeness, I was also bewildered about what I got in this story. I don’t mind stories that are infused with religious thought and theory, but I do mind when it’s not in a book or series known for being inspirational fiction. It felt like a bait and switch somewhat.
I also found that ending abrupt, confusing, and dissatisfying. It just stops after the big scene and doesn’t offer a denouement that will close out the story properly. I mean the danger is over and they got some answers, but there is no wrap-up.
So, this was more a philosophical and religious story with a side of suspense and character development. If you can adjust to that, then you’ll do alright since it was a decent story with a pair of favorite characters from the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
I was first introduced to Anne Perry’s books during the Christmas of 1989 when I opened a gift from my parents and beheld a new to me historical mystery set during Victorian times. I started reading that night and didn’t stop until the wee hours. I was enchanted. So, no surprise, a few days later, I was at the bookstore in town piling up on the back list of the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. See, my folks got me the ninth book in the series (reading out of order must run in the family). I have been reading her books ever since.
Share with me about a book you got for Christmas that ended up leading you to a new favorite author or series.