By Tina Jordan
Updated December 08, 2006 05:00 AM
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Anne Perry’s prim Victorian mysteries, steeped in a world of antimacassars, proper high teas, and elderflower wine, have a certain antique charm. But compared with its predecessors, the doddering, creaky Christmas Secret seems downright ancient. When a dashing minister is called to fill in for a vacationing colleague, his wife soon discovers the old guy didn’t get much farther than the coal cellar. But there’s not much suspense: The red herring is blindingly obvious, the real murderer all too apparent. Perry writes with such a heavy hand that the snow drifting on the wintry moors seems like so much fake white fluff.