From the rough but colorful pub that provides the book's title, to the snowboard Gothic estate nearby, the chilly English landscape has never held more atmosphere—or thwarted romance. And Jury will never have a more mysterious Christmas.
Five Days Before Christmas: On his way to a brief holiday (he thinks) Jury meets a woman he could fall in love with. He meets her in a snow-covered graveyard—not, he thinks, the best way to begin an attachment.
Four Days Before Christmas: Jury meets Father Rourke, who draws for him the semiotic square—"a structure that might simplify thought,” says the priest, but Jury's thoughts need more than symbols.
Three Days Before Christmas: Melrose Plant, Jury's aristocratic and unofficial assistant, arrives at Spinney Abbey, now home to a well-known critic. Among the assembled snowbound guests he meets—Lady Assington, Beatrice Sleight, and the painter Edward Parmenger. When they all assemble in the dining room, Lady Assington announces, "I think we should have a murder.”