Holed up at Hilary Bill-Tasman’s manor estate for Christmas, Troy Alleyn is to paint the man’s portrait and, while she’s there, view the Druid Christmas pageant. Along with a pack of eccentric guests, Troy enjoys the festivities– until one of the pageant’s players mysteriously disappears into the snowy night. Did the hired help– each a paroled murderer from the nearby prison– have a deadly hand in this Christmas conundrum? Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to join his wife in finding the lost man– and unraveling the glaring truth from the glittering tinsel.
With Alleyn in New Zealand on an extradition case over Christmas, Troy is staying with a client as she paints his picture.
There’s a Christmas pageant and afterwards the main participant disappears. Considering that many of the staff are ex-offenders (murderers) and the missing man known to be disliked by the staff, it’s not long before people are worried. Alleyn returns earlier than expected and soon gets involved.
Not perhaps the best one of Marsh’s – the “oncers” are a little too over wrought and some of the other characters under developed. Once again, Troy is in the forefront during the first half of the book, but is soon faded to background once Alleyn turns up.