A Christmas Homecoming

( 11 )

Overview

Among the brilliant array of Anne Perry’s New York Times bestselling novels, her Christmas stories occupy perhaps the warmest spot in the hearts of readers. Each one is a masterpiece of suspense; each is alight with the true holiday spirit.

In A Christmas Homecoming, a familiar face from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels—Charlotte’s mother, Caroline—travels with her young husband, Joshua Fielding, and his theatrical troupe to Whitby, the Yorkshire fishing village where ...

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A Christmas Homecoming

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Overview

Among the brilliant array of Anne Perry’s New York Times bestselling novels, her Christmas stories occupy perhaps the warmest spot in the hearts of readers. Each one is a masterpiece of suspense; each is alight with the true holiday spirit.

In A Christmas Homecoming, a familiar face from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels—Charlotte’s mother, Caroline—travels with her young husband, Joshua Fielding, and his theatrical troupe to Whitby, the Yorkshire fishing village where Dracula the vampire first touched English soil in the sensational novel named after him. Joshua has arranged to produce a stage adaptation of Dracula by the daughter of Whitby millionaire Charles Netheridge during the Christmas holiday, but after the disastrous first read-through of her amateurish script, only the fact that the company is depending on Netheridge’s financial backing for their spring tour keeps them at work. 

As tempers flare and wind and snow swirl around Netheridge’s lonely hilltop mansion, a black-cloaked stranger emerges from the storm—an eerily opportune arrival, for this enigmatic figure, one Anton Ballin, turns out to be a theatrical genius. At the same time, a brooding evil makes itself felt. Instead of the theatrical triumph that Netheridge desired for his daughter, there is murder—shocking and terrifying.

Anne Perry’s ninth Christmas novel keeps us poised on a razor’s edge of suspense, hypnotized by a story in which the heartwarming power of goodness is challenged by the seductive power of inner darkness. In the end, A Christmas Homecoming lifts the spirit and rejoices the heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Perry’s fine ninth Victorian Christmas mystery (after 2010’s A Christmas Odyssey) takes Caroline Fielding, the mother-in-law of Insp. Thomas Pitt of Scotland Yard (the lead of Perry’s main series), to the town of Whitby, in York, where Dracula came ashore in Stoker’s recently published horror novel. Caroline and her actor husband, Joshua, are the guests of Charles Netheridge, whose daughter, Alice, has adapted Stoker’s book for the stage. Joshua, who’s brought the lead actors in his acting company to the Netheridges’ huge mansion, hopes to parlay Alice’s Dracula, to be performed for the locals at Christmas, into Charles’s financial backing for the coming theatrical season. Then a mysterious stranger shows up at their snowbound door seeking refuge: Anton Ballin, who alarmingly resembles the vampire king himself. While Ballin makes some staging suggestions that improve the play, his arrival provides the catalyst for bloodshed. Caroline proves herself an astute sleuth in this challenging whodunit. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
Praise for the Christmas novels of Anne Perry
 
A Christmas Odyssey
 
“[Perry] writes with detail that invades the senses.”—Lincoln Journal Star
 
A Christmas Promise
 
“Poignant . . . should be on the Christmas stocking list of anyone who likes a sniffle of nostalgia.”—The Washington Times
 
A Christmas Grace
 
“[A] heartwarming, if crime-tinged, complement to the holiday season.”—Booklist
 
A Christmas Beginning
 
“Intriguing . . . Perry’s use of period detail is, as always, strong and evocative.”—The Seattle Times
 
A Christmas Secret
 
“A delightful little book . . . Perry’s gift is that she can evoke a sense of place and time while still producing the thrills and chills expected of a modern-day mystery writer.”—The Orlando Sentinel
Kirkus Reviews
Christmastime in Victorian England. What better setting for staging a vampire play and solving a murder mystery? The ninth in Perry's series of Christmas mysteries (A Christmas Odyssey, 2010, etc.), the book follows Caroline Fielding as she travels with her young husband, Joshua, and his acting troupe from London to Whitby. Hoping to secure Charles Netheridge's patronage for the next season, Joshua has contracted to put on a Boxing Day performance of Dracula, adapted by Netheridge's daughter, Alice. Charles hopes to rid his daughter of frivolous interests before she marries and settles down. However, Alice, engaged to the conservative and artistically unsupportive Douglas Paterson, yearns for independence. The play is amateurish, but encouraged by Caroline, Joshua works closely with Alice to bring the gothic tale to life. Outside, a relentless snow storm isolates the cast and family, and underlying tensions begin to percolate. Douglas' eye begins to wander towards one of the actors, the lovely Lydia. Vincent, playing Van Helsing, challenges Joshua at nearly every directorial turn. Despite the storm, the mysterious Anton Ballin arrives, seeking shelter and proving to be an expert on not only vampires but also stagecraft. Just as the play falls into shape, Caroline stumbles over a dead body in the dark of night. Isolated by the storm, only one of them could be the murderer. But who? With careful attention to the nuances of character, Perry offers a tale worthy of mulling over by the fireplace.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345524638
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Series: Christmas Mysteries Series , #9
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 170,354
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Perry
Anne Perry is the bestselling author of eight earlier holiday novels—A Christmas Odyssey, A Christmas Promise, A Christmas Grace, A Christmas Journey, A Christmas Visitor, A Christmas Guest, A Christmas Secret, and A Christmas Beginning—as well as the William Monk series and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series set in Victorian England, five World War I novels, and a work of historical fiction, The Sheen on the Silk. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.

Biography

Born in London in October 1938, Anne Perry was plagued with health problems as a young child. So severe were her illnesses that at age eight she was sent to the Bahamas to live with family friends in the hopes that the warmer climate would improve her health. She returned to her family as a young teenager, but sickness and frequent moves had interrupted her formal education to the extent that she was finally forced to leave school altogether. With the encouragement of her supportive parents, she was able to "fill in the gaps" with voracious reading, and her lack of formal schooling has never held her back.

Although Perry held down many jobs—working at various times as a retail clerk, stewardess, limousine dispatcher, and insurance underwriter—the only thing she ever seriously wanted to do in life was to write. (In her '20s, she started putting together the first draft of Tathea, a fantasy that would not see print until 1999.) At the suggestion of her stepfather, she began writing mysteries set in Victorian London; and in 1979, one of her manuscripts was accepted for publication. The book was The Cater Street Hangman, an ingenious crime novel that introduced a clever, extremely untidy police inspector named Thomas Pitt. In this way an intriguing mystery series was born…along with a successful writing career.

In addition to the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels, Perry crafts darker, more layered Victorian mysteries around the character of London police detective William Monk, whose memory has been impaired by a coach accident. (Monk debuted in 1990's The Face of a Stranger.) She also writes historical novels set during the First World War (No Graves as Yet, Shoulder the Sky, etc.) and holiday-themed mysteries (A Christmas Journey, A Christmas Secret, etc), and her short stories have been included in several anthologies.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Anne Perry:

The first time I made any money telling a story I was four and a half years old—golden hair, blue eyes, a pink smocked dress, and neat little socks and shoes. I walked home from school (it was safe then) with my lunchtime sixpence unspent. A large boy, perhaps 12 or 13, stopped me. He was carrying a stick and threatened to hit me if I didn't give him my sixpence. I told him a long, sad story about how poor we were—no food at home, not even enough money for shoes! He gave me his half crown—five times sixpence! It's appalling! I didn't think of it as lying, just escaping with my sixpence. How on earth he could have believed me I have no idea. Perhaps that is the knack of a good story—let your imagination go wild, pile on the emotions—believe it yourself, evidence to the contrary be damned. I am not really proud of that particular example!

I used to live next door to people who had a tame dove. They had rescued it when it broke its wing. The wing healed, but it never learned to fly again. I used to walk a mile or so around the village with the dove. Its little legs were only an inch or two long, so it got tired, then it would ride on my head. Naturally I talked to it. It was a very nice bird. I got some funny looks. Strangers even asked me if I knew there was a bird on my head! Who the heck did they think I was talking to? Of course I knew there was a bird on my head. I'm not stupid—just a writer, and entitled to be a little different. I'm also English, so that gives me a second excuse!

On the other hand I'm not totally scatty. I like maths, and I used to love quadratic equations. One of the most exciting things that happened to me was when someone explained non-Euclidean geometry to me, and I suddenly saw the infinite possibilities in lateral thinking! How could I have been so blind before?

Here are some things I like—and one thing I don't:

  • I love wild places, beech trees, bluebell woods, light on water—whether the light is sunlight, moonlight, or lamplight; and whether the water is ocean, rain, snow, river, mist, or even a puddle.

  • I love the setting sun in autumn over the cornstooks.

  • I love to eat raspberries, pink grapefruit, crusty bread dipped in olive oil.

  • I love gardens where you seem to walk from "room to room," with rambling roses and vines climbing into the trees and sudden vistas when you turn corners.

  • I love white swans and the wild geese flying overhead.

  • I dislike rigidity, prejudice, ill-temper, and perhaps above all, self-righteousness.

  • I love laughter, mercy, courage, hope. I think that probably makes me pretty much like most people. But that isn't bad.
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      1. Also Known As:
        Juliet Hulme
      2. Hometown:
        Portmahomack, Ross-shire, U.K
      1. Date of Birth:
        October 28, 1938
      2. Place of Birth:
        Blackheath, London England

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 3.5
    ( 11 )
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    Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
    • Posted October 8, 2011

      more from this reviewer

      a superb locked mansion whodunit

      Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Pitt's mother-in-law Caroline Fielding and her husband Joshua the actor travel to Whitby, York for a performance of Bram Stoker's recently published novel Dracula. Alice Netheridge has adopted the horror thriller to be performed on the stage at the town where the Count first disembarked on English soil. Joshua will direct the play with hopes of obtaining major funding from Alice's wealthy father Charles for next spring's theatre productions. Charles hosts the Fielding couple and actors from Joshua's troupe.

      A heavy snowstorm isolates everyone at the mansion on the hill. While the weather outside is frightful, a straggler Anton Ballin arrives asking for sanctuary from the storm. He uncannily resembles Dracula and makes recommendations to improve the production that sound like someone who is a vampire insider. Soon after his arrival, murder follows. With everyone locked inside the mansion believing Ballin is the cold blooded killer, Caroline investigates.

      The latest Anne Perry Victorian Christmas mystery (see Silent Night and A Christmas Odyssey) is a superb locked mansion whodunit as Caroline proves to be a capable detective and a wonderful protagonist who holds the entertaining tale together. The cast is solid while Carline's detecting is clever fun. Fans will enjoy Pitt's in-law as an amateur sleuth investigating a homicide.

      Harriet Klausner

      2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 15, 2012

      Don't Waste Your Money on This Book

      This was my first Anne Perry novel and I will not read her books again. I was not impressed with the writing style, uniqueness of the story line or character development. Furthermore, there was hardly anything about Christmas in this book. A big disappointment!

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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