Charlotte MacLeod is a mystery author known for her unconventional characters and outrageous plots. Rest You Merry, published in 1979, was her first mystery novel. It was followed by nine more in the Peter Shandy series, ending in 1996. While she was writing that series, she had three other series going. The Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn series was also published under her own name. Under the pseudonym of Alisa Craig she wrote two series set in Canada: the Grub and Stakers series and a series featuring Detective Inspector Madoc Rhys of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The first book in the Madoc Rhys series is A Pint of Murder, published in 1980. In that book Madoc meets Janet Wadman, and there is an immediate attraction between them. Murder Goes Mumming is the second book in the series and follows up on that relationship. Madoc is a Royal Canadian Mountie, and he is visiting Fredericton, New Brunswick where Janet works and lives in a boarding house. This book has the fastest engagement ever, with Madoc's mother, Lady Rhys, practically pushing an heirloom ring on them to seal the deal. (Not that I have anything against relationships that move along quickly; if you know you have found a good thing, why not go for it?) Madoc is the black sheep in a family of talented musicians.
This is my first Christmas mystery of the season. The couple is invited to spend Christmas with acquaintances of Lady Rhys, Donald and Babs Condrycke, at the family estate, Graylings. It doesn't hurt that Donald is a board member at the company where Janet is a stenographer. And of course Madoc, Janet, and the huge Condrycke clan all get snowed in. So this is a traditional country house mystery, very much on the cozy side, with lots of humor and some very unusual characters.
In the first mystery in the series, Madoc is sent undercover to investigate a suspicious death. In this one, he is in undercover in the sense that he does not announce that he makes his living in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Condryckes assume he has some unspecified research position in the government. When an elderly member of the family dies, only Madoc suspects that the death was not natural. Since a doctor cannot be called in and they cannot get out to report the death, he proceeds to do as much investigating as he can without alerting the others to the situation.
This is a fun story. I have always wondered what mumming is, and now I know at least one version of it. In this case the costumed group did not visit neighbors, but just traipsed and danced around the big house and partied.
One drawback is that most of the members of the Condrycke family are coarse, self-centered, and unlikable. It is hard to care who did what or why if no one is likable. (We never meet the victim, Granny Condrycke.) Janet and Madoc are really the only likable characters, and they are almost too good to be true. There is a very interesting Welsh butler, Ludovic.
As far as the solution to the mystery goes, it is sort of slapdash, and the explanation is long and involved. But really in this type of story, solving the mystery is not so important and I was mostly enjoying the author's wit and satire.
I will admit that I was drawn to this book because of its wonderful cover, which my husband discovered and pointed out to me.
In December of 2014, I read and reviewed MacLeod's first mystery, Rest You Merry, which also is set at Christmas.
Publisher: Doubleday Books, 1981
Length: 180 pages
Series: Madoc Rhys, #2
Setting: New Brunswick, Canada
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: I purchased this book.