Corpus Christmas (Sigrid Harald Series #6) by Margaret Maron
A relic of Manhattan's Gilded Age, the Erich Bruel House is home to an idiosyncratic collection of art. For over sixty years it has managed on donations from the visiting public and its dwindling trust fund. But tastes in art do change and in trying to restore the house's faded luster, its trustees propose a major retrospective for renowned artist Oscar Nauman. A festive Christmas party in Nauman's honor ends in acrimony--and next morning one of the trustees is found in a most unfestive heap at the bottom of the basement steps. Lt. Sigrid Harald had been an unwilling guest and the party and now she must return to investigate why that trustee was so universally hated. As often happens when Nauman is involved, Sigrid's professional duties are complicated by her off-duty relationships.
Corpus Christmas was first published in 1989, but unlike others in this series, there is little, in a technological sense, to jar the reader unless one compulsively adds and subtracts from the few dates scattered through the text. The New York depicted here is very much as it is today, except--tragically--for the view of lower Manhattan that Sigrid enjoyed from the deck of a Staten Island ferry. Although loosely based on an amalgam of the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park, the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, and the Horace Williams House in Chapel Hill, the Breul House itself is a complete fiction.
(Cover design by Paper Moon Graphics, Inc.)