"A Christmas Beginning" is the first of two novellas in Anne Perry's Silent Nights: Two Victorian Christmas Mysteries.
Scotland Yard Superintendent Runcorn, on vacation on the island of Anglesey off the Coast of Whales, finds the sister of the local vicar murdered.
Runcorn is an outsider in the village, though he has had contact with some of the villagers before.
This is a novel of manners. It begins with a scene in the church which defines each person's standing in the community. The local constabulary cannot effectively investigate because there are too many social mores in the way.
In other words, Victorian small towns are like today's small towns, at least in their closed ways and in the way their evil is beneath the surface, coated with supposed gentility.
Runcorn, being an outsider, can crash through all this, and he does, kind of like a clumsy customer in a high-priced antique store.
This is also a love story. The only woman Runcorn has ever loved in a romantic way is inaccessible to him, way out of his class. The question is: Will he get the girl?
I enjoyed this book for what it was. I had never read Anne Perry before. She is a skillful writer who (from I've read) has written a series of Christmas mysteries.