Perry's latest suspense novel stars 19th-century socialite Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, a veteran of the author's popular Thomas Pitt series. While our noble, beautiful heroine parties with friends in the Berkshire countryside, her children are ''well cared for'' back in London. The merriment ceases when Vespasia's green-eyed pal Lady Isobel insults a kind widow, who promptly kills herself. All blame Isobel's nasty remark, but Vespasia stands by the accused and accompanies her on a journey to the Highlands of Scotland to find the mother of the deceased. The scenery is enveloping, but the suicide mystery is a stretch. By the time everyone begins making generic Christmas Eve speeches extolling the virtues of courage, you'll be yawning.