Cecily Sinclair Baxter could use a Christmas miracle. Mrs. Chubb, the Pennyfoot’s housekeeper, must travel up north for a family emergency, and Cecily needs a temporary replacement. The agency doesn’t have much to offer on short notice during this busy time of year. But they have someone—Beatrice Tucker—who turns out to be more of a curse. She fights with just about everyone, including Archibald Armitage.
Star of the London stage, Armitage is staying at the Pennyfoot this holiday season. His presence turns out to be a blessing after he rescues the stable manager’s dog from drowning in the icy duck pond. But not everyone in Badgers End is a fan of the actor…
When Armitage drops dead after Beatrice serves him some plum pudding, everyone assumes the huffy housekeeper is the culprit. But as Cecily begins to investigate, the list of suspects grows, and solving this case may not be as easy as pie…or pudding.
My Review: No Christmas season is complete without a visit to pre-WWI rural England via Kate Kingsbury's Pennyfoot Hotel series. I think this is my favorite one yet. Housekeeper Mrs. Chubb has been called away and temporarily replaced with Beatrice "Tucker the Terrible" who has everybody on edge. Things go from bad to worse when an actor staying at the Pennyfoot is found dead in his bed after Beatrice brings him some plum pudding. Could she have poisoned the pudding? Maids Gertie and Pansy certainly hope so...that's one way to get rid of the tyrant!!! But as Cecily starts investigating she discovers the actor was quite the ladies' man and was involved in a string of tragic affairs.
I enjoyed how much the Gertie/Clive and Pansy/Samuel relationships were featured in this book, and of course the annual disaster of Phoebe's Christmas pageant. I can't wait to see what will unfold in subsequent books with all the changes afoot. The mystery was a page-turner with a wealth of suspects that had very valid and personal reasons to see the Casanova dead.
I would love to visit the Pennyfoot during the Christmas season (in spite of the Christmas Curse).
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