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The ghost of Christmas past
2017
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Summary

From Rhys Bowen, the author of In Farleigh Field, comes the next Molly Murphy mystery: The Ghost of Christmas Past.

Semi-retired private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan is suffering from depression after a miscarriage following her adventure in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. She and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, and they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season.

Not long after they arrive, however, they start to feel the tension in the house's atmosphere. Then they learn that the host couple's young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again. Molly can identify with the mother's pain at never knowing what happened to her child and wants to help, but there is so little to go on. No ransom note. No body ever found. But Molly slowly begins to suspect that the occupants of the house know more than they are letting on.

Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. "I'm Charlotte," she says. "I've come home."

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Booklist Review
Depressed after experiencing the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the devastating fires that followed, and her own miscarriage, Molly Murphy Sullivan is glad to be home to celebrate Christmas with her family and friends. But when her mother-in-law's old friend invites Molly and her family to spend the holidays with them, Molly reluctantly agrees, mainly to please her policeman husband Daniel. The atmosphere at the house is tense and uncomfortable, and Molly soon learns that their hostess Winnie's young daughter, Charlotte, disappeared without a trace one snowy Christmastime 10 years before. As an investigator, Molly feels compelled to try to solve this cold case. However, on Christmas Eve, a 13-year-old girl arrives claiming to be Charlotte. Winnie immediately accepts Charlotte as her daughter, but her husband, Cedric, is wary and asks Molly's husband, Daniel, to verify Charlotte's story. Molly ultimately unravels the truth but not before the entire household is put in serious danger. Well-drawn characters and setting, strong women, and crisp details of life in the early 1900s add to this historical mystery, though the novel is marred by one very large coincidence.--O'Brien, Sue Copyright 2017 Booklist
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