Tied Up in Tinsel
Troy Alleyn has been commissioned to paint the portrait of Hillary Bill-Tasmin at Christmas time. Her husband is out of the country and the job is a challenge. Hillary Bill-Tasmin is a man whose family fell on hard times, then became wealthy starting with a junk business but then turning it into a company that sells and procures priceless antiques and collectibles. He and his "Uncle" Bert are now the best in the business and Hillary has unashamedly let his snobbery come to the forefront.
He bought back the old family home and celebrates Christmas there each year. His staff is one of his oddities - they are all released murderers. They are the "one-timers", having killed out of passion or accident, rather than a pre-meditated killing. He is proud of his staff. His "Uncle" Bert, his fiancee Cressida, and his Uncle Flea and Aunt Bed, the relatives who raised him, are coming for the holiday. His Aunt and Uncle are also bringing their long time staff companion Moult.
Every year Uncle Flea plays the Christmas Druid for the celebration. This year his health has been giving him problems, but he is determined. At the last moment, he has an attack and Moult takes over for him. Moult carries out the five-minute task, slips back to remove the costume, and disappears. Now Hillary's staff come under suspicion for a new possible murder.
Marsh gives the reader enough clues to tantalize and possibly solve this detective mystery. There are not quite enough clues to know why until some of the more obscure ones are explained in the end. She draws an interesting cast of characters, some who feel more real than others. I had to chuckle when the staff was being interviewed and their thoughts about their boss. Hillary talked about his rehabilitation project. They know better, knowing he is getting exactly what he pays for, a very hard working group of men.
| The Series:
A Man Lay Dead
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Corpus Christmas by Margaret Maron
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