Murder in the Manger (Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries #3)

cover of Murder in the Manger
The Sophie Sayers Christmas Special

When Sophie Sayers’ plans for a cosy English country Christmas are interrupted by the arrival of her ex-boyfriend, her troubles are only just beginning. Before long, the whole village stands accused of murder.

Damian says he’s come to direct the village nativity play, but Sophie thinks he’s up to no good. What are those noises coming from his van? Who is the stranger lurking in the shadows? And whose baby, abandoned in the manger, disappears in plain sight?

Enjoy the fun of a traditional Cotswold festive season, with echoes of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as Sophie seeks a happy ending for her latest village mystery – and for her new romance with charming local bookseller Hector Munro.

For fans of cosy mysteries everywhere, Murder in the Manger brings to life all the fun and foibles of life of in an English village, wrapped round an intriguing mystery – the perfect Christmas cocktail.

Murder in the Manger is the third in the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series, which runs the course of the year in Wendlebury Barrow from one summer to the next, but you can read them in any order you like. Read them in the order they’re written, or just pick whichever matches the current season – it’s entirely up to you.

Scroll down the page to read the opening chapter for free.

How to Order

Buy online here or order from your local bookshop quoting ISBN 9781911223221

What Readers Say

Debbie Young delves into the awkwardness of human nature in a deft and funny way: Miss Marple meets Bridget Jones. – Belinda Pollard, author of the Wild Crimes series

The funniest opening line of any book anywhere, bar none. I can’t get enough of Sophie Sayers. – Wendy Jones, author of the DI Shona McKenzie crime series

The cosiest of crime books, packed with eccentric and lovable characters and details of life in a country village. It is a delightful, easy to read book with plenty of gentle humour. A perfect Christmas read to relax with. – Carol Westron, writing in Mystery People Vol 7 Issue 10

To read more reviews on this website, click here.

THE OPENING CHAPTER of Murder in the Manger

Away in a Manger

It was when the stable animals developed the power of speech that I realised the cast were departing from my nativity play script.

“Do you think your baby Jesus would like a cuddle, Mrs Virgin?” asked a small sheep politely.

“Hoi, first go for shepherds!” said an older boy with a tea-towel on his head, elbowing the sheep aside.

The small sheep scowled. “I asked first.”

A larger sheep pointed accusingly at Mary. “She’s the virgin around here. I think she should make you take turns nicely.”

The small sheep and the shepherd made a dash across the stable floor, both arriving at the manger at the same time and grabbing the Baby Jesus. The plastic doll fell in pieces to the flagstone floor, leaving the shepherd holding its left leg and the sheep its head. The congregation gasped in horror.

The larger sheep put his hands on his hips. “Now look what you’ve done. You’ve broken Baby Jesus.”

As he spoke, a chilling wail rang out from the back pew and ricocheted down the aisle to the front of the church. All eyes turned to stare at its source, sheep and shepherd forgotten.

“My baby! You’ve murdered my baby!”

A shadowy figure leaped from the back pew and legged it up the aisle to the nave, her shawl falling back to reveal a jumble of fair curls streaming out behind her.

Pushing the children out of her way, she kicked the broken doll aside and burrowed her hands down into the manger, as if looking for buried treasure.

“This isn’t the Lucky Dip, you know,” said the larger sheep crossly.

Finding nothing but hay, she seized the manger in both hands and tipped it upside down, perhaps expecting to find something valuable tucked away down a crack in the wood. Drawing herself up to her full height, she then turned to Mary.

“He was there an hour ago. I put him there myself.”

Mary stared, speechless.

The woman turned to face the congregation, polling the room with an accusing finger. “All right, this is a church, isn’t it? So confess! Which of you has stolen my baby?”