The latest novel from Heather Redmond’s acclaimed mystery series finds young Charles Dickens suspecting a miser of pushing his partner out a window, but his fiancée Kate Hogarth takes a more charitable view of the old man’s innocence . . .
London, December 1835: Charles and Kate are out with friends and family for a chilly night of caroling and good cheer. But their blood truly runs cold when their singing is interrupted by a body plummeting from an upper window of a house. They soon learn the dead man at their feet, his neck strangely wrapped in chains, is Jacob Harley, the business partner of the resident of the house, an unpleasant codger who owns a counting house, one Emmanuel Screws.
Ever the journalist, Charles dedicates himself to discovering who’s behind the diabolical defenestration. But before he can investigate further, Harley’s corpse is stolen. Following that, Charles is visited in his quarters by what appears to be Harley’s ghost—or is it merely Charles’s overwrought imagination? He continues to suspect Emmanuel, the same penurious penny pincher who denied his father a loan years ago, but Kate insists the old man is too weak to heave a body out a window. Their mutual affection and admiration can accommodate a difference of opinion, but matters are complicated by the unexpected arrival of an infant orphan. Charles must find the child a home while solving a murder, to ensure that the next one in chains is the guilty party.
Heather Redmond does it again in her holiday mystery of the classic Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol Murder is masterfully narrated as if Mr. Dickens’ were still with us today. Ms. Redmond’s style and prose closely follow that of the Master’s, making this particular reader exceptionally happy.
The names of the primary characters were changed, hinting Mr. Dickens’ used the murder as the catalyst to his wildly popular and much beloved A Christmas Carol. Mr. Scrooge is Mr. Screws, a miser, and an overall miserable excuse for a human being. Jacob Marley becomes Jacob Harley, the murder victim and former partner of Mr. Screws. And who could forget Tiny Tim? In this case, there is an infant Timothy who is the illegitimate child of—Mr. Dickens?
Mr. Dickens is a journalist for his fiancée, Kate’s, father’s newspaper while also working on his novels. While caroling for Christmas, they witness the death of Mr. Marley—twisted in chains and thrown out of the window of Mr. Screws’ home.
After many twists and turns, Mr. Screws ends up employing Mr. Dickens to discover the murderer of Mr. Marley. While Dickens’ curiosity is piqued regarding the murder and the money is most welcomed, it leaves him less time to find Timothy’s father. Finding Timothy’s father becomes a very pressing issue for Mr. Dickens, who has chosen to keep Timothy’s existence from Kate, which, as most secrets end up, turns out to be a poor choice.
I loved every character and their interactions, the plotline, and basically everything about this book. The only reason I knocked this review from a 5-Star to a 4.5-Star review is that I guessed the killer very early on. To me, it was far too easy to solve, and I like a little more of an Agatha Christie challenge to my mysteries. Having said that, after finishing the book, I was more than delighted to turn it over to my daughter, who loves mysteries as I do.
This is the first book I’ve read from Heather Redmond, but it most assuredly will not be my last. I love her writing style, her dedication to historical facts, her vivid illustrations of the scenes, and her expressive depictions of her characters. Quite simply, Ms. Redmond is a brilliant star in the publishing universe. One every reader should experience for themselves.
Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction and also writes as Heather Hiestand. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last British-born ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century.
She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, was a multi-week Barnes & Noble Hardcover Mystery Bestseller.
Her two current mystery series are “A Dickens of a Crime” and “the Journaling mysteries.” She writes for Kensington and Severn House.
She is the 2020-21 President of the Columbia River Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC).