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Corpus Christmas [Paperback]

Margaret Maron
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Nov 2001
A relic of Manhattan's Gilded Age, the Erich Bruel House is home to an idiosyncratic collection of art. For over sixty years it has managed on donations from the visiting public and its dwindling trust fund. But tastes in art do change and in trying to restore the house's faded luster, its trustees propose a major retrospective for renowned artist Oscar Nauman. A festive Christmas party in Nauman's honor ends in acrimony--and next morning one of the trustees is found in a most unfestive heap at the bottom of the basement steps. Lt. Sigrid Harald had been an unwilling guest and the party and now she must return to investigate why that trustee was so universally hated.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; Reprint edition (Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446677663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446677660
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,576,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unseasonal treat! 31 July 2013
By Dorya
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought Margaret Maron had moved on to other things and given up writing about Sigrid Harald, so I was pleased to see this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not Deborah! 16 Dec 2001
By Evelyn C - Published on
But it is good. I found this book - set in New York - to be a fun read. I enjoy Ms Maron's style of writing, so that didn't matter. The cast of characters is quirky and the art world was a far cry from the southern family style of the Knott mysteries. Over all I had fun with it and learned a thing or two.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sigrid Harald, #6 of 8, about average, too "artsy" (for me) 25 Feb 2002
By Jerry Bull - Published on
I generally have enjoyed Margaret Maron's earlier (than her current series about Deborah Knott) 8-book series about NYC detective supervisor (Ms) Sigrid Harald. I just finished the 1989 edition, but I notice it's been republished and available readily again. Most of the Harald stories are pretty straight police investigations, with just enough plot complexity to retain an edge, but otherwise, like the leading lady herself, somewhat minimalist. As in the finale (#8), this one is set in the art world, at a Manhattan art museum known as the Erich Breul House. Not only is a significant amount of the book about famous painters and art gallery goings-on, but also each of the chapters is onset with quotations from the young Mr. Breul or some other pertinent history of nearly a century ago. By now I think it fair to guess Ms. Maron must at least be an art student or devotee since the art descriptions are probably just too detailed to be mere research.
The story gets its name from a murder that takes place at the gallery a few days before Christmas. (Have no fear, it is not otherwise a Christmas tale, so can be comfortably read any time...) One of the new trustees is found bludgeoned to death after it is clear some research he has been conducting has uncovered something somebody doesn't want public. There's plenty of reason to suspect several of the main characters, many of who have no alibis, but ultimately the discovery of the murder weapon solves the crime.
Since my desire was to read the complete Harald series, I'm not sorry I read this. It was to me not as good as most of the others, as it took an awfully long time for the "body", of both the story and the victim (!), to appear; and having no interest at all in art, all that stuff about the gallery and famous painters was a little boring. But Maron is a good writer, her tales pleasing, and no doubt some will appreciate parts of this book more than me.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 27 Dec 2006
By Armchair Interviews - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you enjoy the world of art and mystery, then Corpus Christmas is the book for you.

The story takes place in the venerable, art-filled Erich Breul House during the Christmas season in New York City.

Maron prepares the scenario by introducing the main characters and their connection to Breul House. Dr. Roger Shambley, an art historian who works at the house and who seems to be disliked by everyone, makes a startling discovery involving a work of art that could make him rich and famous. For the moment, he decides to keep his discovery a secret. Then, a few days before Christmas, a special dinner is given and the characters come to attend. That night, Dr. Shambley is bludgeoned to death.

Lt. Sigrid Harald of the NYPD, who happens to be one of the guests because of her relationship with famous artist Oscar Nauman, soon takes charge of the investigation.

Who could have murdered the art historian? The list of suspects is long-enough to keep the reader guessing until the end.

Having read other books in the Sigrid Harald series, I feel that on the earlier ones Maron comes quicker to the point where the mystery is concerned. In this book the author spends a lot of time giving information about art.

This is great for a reader who loves art, but a reader who doesn't might be irritated by a lot of information that slows down the plot. Of course, Maron's style is irreproachable and as elegant as always. Corpus Christmas is an excellently written mystery for those readers who enjoy a touch of sophistication in their mysteries.

Armchair Interviews says: Art and murder mixed up for a good read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Christmas Treat! 24 Feb 2011
By Karen in OR - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As a preface to any review of the Sigrid Harald series, I think it only right to include the author's note from the final book "Fugitive Colors".

"Lieutenant Sigrid Harald, NYPD first appeared in... "One Coffee With" in 1981. "Fugitive Colors" is her eighth adventure, with each book set in what was - and is - the current "now."

"One Coffee With" began on a blue-sky sunny April day. Spring gave way to summer, then autumn in New York, followed by Christmas and one of the worst Februarys in the city's memory (in Sigrid's memory, too, unfortunately)

For the author, fourteen years have passed. For Sigrid Harald herself, no matter how much internal evidence alert readers may cite to the contrary, it has been only one short tumultuous year.

And now it is spring again. . . "

As mentioned, this jewel of a character study spans the course of eight full length novels plus two short stories, one, "Lieutenant Harald And the `Treasure Island' Treasure" was originally published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and the other, "Lieutenant Harald And The Impossible Gun" first appeared in Marilyn Wallace's fourth anthology. Both can be found in Margaret Maron's short story anthology "Shoveling Smoke".

As other reviewers have noted, these stories must be read in the correct order to fully understand the amazing transformation Sigrid goes through in the span of a short year, both internally and externally. And yet, all of the books can stand alone as well-plotted mysteries. This is the mark of Maron's true genius.

"Corpus Christmas" (1989) - On December 16, Oscar Nauman's agent, Jacob Munson, has arranged for a gala reception to be held at the Erich Bruel House, in hopes of persuading Nauman to allow the museum to mount a major retrospective of his works as a fundraiser for the failing museum. A relic of Manhattan's Gilded Age, the Erich Bruel House on Gramercy Park contained three floors of glorious art - and one Christmas corpse. Now it's up to Lieutenant Sigrid Harald to wrap up this homicide before the killer strikes again in this classic mystery.

Again, Sigrid's personal and private live become intertwined in this mystery. She first meets the victim and suspects as Nauman's escort to the reception, only to return hours later as the officer in charge of the murder investigation. It is this insider's edge that gives her insight into the solution of the case. A new character is introduced in this book, and reappears in the final two books. Elliott Bunrock is the hottest freelance curator in the art world. Sigrid meets him through Nauman, but they also strike up a friendship on their own terms.

This is probably the most lighthearted of all the Sigrid stories. The murder takes second place to the fascinating characters. Sigrid herself is in a great place in her life. She is happy with Nauman, pleased with her new apartment situation with Roman and secure in her professional life.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You're better off buying a used copy of the '89 release 3 Sep 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read the original release of this book and enjoyed it very much. It was republished in 2006 and the changes included, though minor in terms of plot development, were offensive in terms of character development. That characters could be gay in the 80's and 15 years later be reduced to 'just good friends' is a sad commentary on the state of publushing in the US today.
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