"A Christmas Grace" is the second of two novellas in Anne Perry's book Silent Nights.
Set in 1895 in the village of Connemara in Western Ireland, "A Christmas Grace" involves a mission of mercy. Emily Radley spends Christmas with her dying Aunt Susannah whom she hasn't seen since Susannah became estranged from the family for marrying an Irish-Catholic.
Connemara has a poisonous secret. Several years ago, someone in the small town killed a washed up sailor who took refuge there. The sailor became privy to some of the town's secrets.
Emily solves the crime as she and others tend to Susannah.
For me, the major blessing in this story was in the physical descriptions. Perry sets the scene, describes the Irish countryside, in a compelling way.
This is another story of the impact of an outsider. In this case the outsider is an English Protestant woman, about as outside as you can get in Ireland in the 1890's.
I didn't think this story was as tightly written as the first story in the book, but I can sure see how Anne Perry understands small towns.
I often object to the way mystery stories portray small towns. All my life, I lived and ministered in small towns. Too many writers choose them for settings without knowing how they work.
In this story, being an outsider is something that you hide, even if you have to kill to do it.
I enjoyed this book, my first foray into the writing of Anne Perry.
Because of my special interest in small towns and the way they work, and because she is a very good writer, I will probably read more Anne Perry.