The veneer of civility that pervades the halls of Brockdene, however, begins to wear thin when long-held family secrets threaten to bubble over, and one of the Christmas guests if found savagely murdered. With few clues as to who committed the murder and with too many motives as to why, it is once again up to Daisy to sort out the truth that lies beneath a generation of poisonous secrets.
Carola Dunn is the author of numerous historical novels as well as ten previous mysteries featuring Daisy Dalrymple. Born and raised in England, she now lives in Eugene, Oregon.
While the circumstances of his death are out of the ordinary, there's no reason to suspect that it was anything other than a tragic, if inevitable, accident of a careless dope fiend. At least to everyone but Daisy herself. Sure that there is something more than happenstance and an accident involved in the dentist's untimely death, Daisy is determined to uncover the truth behind a case of what she is certain is murder most foul.
All of these factors collide when, the day after collecting donations, Eleanor and the vicar's wife find the dead body of a longhaired, scruffy-looking youth hidden in the stockroom of the charity shop. Then they discover that some donated jewelry thought to be fake is actually very real, very expensive, and the haul from a violent robbery in London. Making matters more complex, the corpse found in the storeroom is apparently not one of the robbers. Carola Dunn's Manna from Hades is a confounding Cornish case of daring theft, doublecross, and a wily older woman confronted by a case of murder most foul.
Lucy's grandfather is hosting the ceremony at his beautiful estate and so it promises to be a typical affair with hordes of gossipy aunts and other colorful but not necessarily pleasant relatives. Daisy meets all these characters and observes the ensuing familial fraternization with a certain kind of amusing nonchalance. That is, until Lucy's great aunt is found strangled to death in her bed. Lucy, in the meantime, has arranged to meet her betrothed in the conservatory, but when she arrives she finds him trying to revive her uncle, who has died-or has he been murdered? And just like that a normally celebratory occasion turns suspicious. Now Daisy must sift through a throng of relatives-aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents- once wedding guests and now murder suspects. And she must find the killer quickly before another family member becomes a corpse.
What she finds there is a household under the thumb of the ill-tempered and demanding Lady Valeria. The discovery of the body of a pregnant maid buried in the winter garden does nothing to improve Lady Valeria's mood. When the local constabulary arrests the Welsh under-gardener who had been involved with the maid for the murder, Daisy is sure of his innocence and suspects that the whole affair is consciously being swept under the carpet. Wary of the air of secrecy that permeates Occles hall and determined to prove the innocence of the young Welshman, Daisy convinces Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard to investigate the murder--a murder that is more complex and horrifying than either could have imagined.