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At the start of Ballard's sweet seventh mystery to feature Lucy Nan Pilgrim and her guardian angel, Augusta Goodnight (after 2006's The Angel and the Jabberwocky Murders), the folks of Stone's Throw, S.C., are preparing for Christmas when Dexter Clark, a not very nice man with a criminal record, falls to his death from a balcony at Willowbrook, Lucy Nan's grandmother's plantation home. Then someone drugs Idonia Mae Culpepper, who'd begun dating town newcomer Melrose DuBois, and steals a locket DuBois had given her. Later, Opal Henshaw, DuBois's landlady, breaks her neck in a fall from a church balcony. Might Opal have known too much about the locket's provenance? Could Melrose be a thief and a killer? Augusta as always makes a delightful earthbound angel in a Southern cozy fragrant with holiday spices and, yes, a selection of enticing recipes. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.