by Sandra Murphy
For your holiday reading and gift giving pleasure we are reviewing 3 Christmas mysteries from Penguin & you can enter to win copies of all 3! We have Let It Sew by Elizabeth Lynn Casey, Read and Buried by Erika Chase, and Herald of Death by Kate Kingsbury. Details at the end of this post on how to enter along with info on how to purchase copies of the books, and if you use our purchase links you help support KRL and our ability to keeping bringing you mystery fun in the new year! And don’t miss our other book giveaways in this week’s issue!
Let It Sew by Elizabeth Lynn Casey
Tori Sinclair, head librarian for the town of Sweet Briar, is back. This time The Grinch is trying to obliterate Christmas—or at least the traditional celebration. Margaret-Louise is a grandmother of seven, avid seamstress and cook but she makes time to head the Christmas decoration committee for the town until the Councilman gets a new girlfriend and replaces Margaret-Louise. Gone are the red and green decorations, the food drive, Santa arriving in town on the fire truck and more. Instead aluminum trees sprout along the main street and decorations are pink.
A town favorite, Charlotte Devereaux has just passed away, sooner than expected according to her nurse/caregiver Frieda. In her last days, Charlotte was often confused and unable to remember the words she needed but she could still draw with the finest detail. Tori sees one of her drawings and wonders—did Charlotte’s husband Parker really run off with a younger woman five years ago or is the drawing a clue? When she and some of the sewing circle dig in the spot shown in the drawing, they find a pair of man’s leather shoes, the metal from a hip replacement and a photo of Charlotte and Parker at their wedding.
Townspeople assume Charlotte was confessing to the murder of her husband but Tori’s not so sure. Suspects abound—the son who expects everything and does nothing to earn it, the mentally challenged son, someone from his professional life? Tori has to dig in more ways than one to find out the truth this time.
Meanwhile, the sewing circle ladies infiltrate the decorating committee to keep tabs on the woman they call The Grinch. Determined to outwit her and give the town a real Christmas, they make their own plans. When the Councilman’s little boy confesses that The Grinch wants to wipe out every memory anyone has of his late mother, the circle is enraged and find a way to show The Grinch’s true colors—and they’re not red and green!
This is a thoroughly enjoyable series. In the back are directions for making a Christmas stocking and a personal organizer. For more details, go to www.elizabethlynncasey.com
Previous books include:
Pinned for Murder
Reap What You Sew
Click this link to purchase Let It Sew:
Read and Buried by Erika Chase
All Lizzie Turner wanted to do was buy a book. How did she manage to get roped into setting up Derek Alton as the guest speaker for the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society? And buy his book, an award winner for sure, but that was eighteen years ago.
Similarly roped into going to dinner with him to discuss the book club and his speech, he manages to talk about himself the entire time, get drunk and make a sloppy pass. To apologize, Derek calls Lizzie and asks her to lunch. When she says no, the doorbell rings—there he is on the doorstep. Can you say pushy!? It might have been a shock to Lizzie but it’s no surprise to the reader when Derek is shot while walking around in Lizzie’s living room. Lizzie is out of the way of danger—she’s on a ladder, hanging mistletoe, an activity boyfriend Mark Dreyfus, aka the police chief, finds more than a little odd.
Lizzie helped solve a murder a few months back (A Killer Read), so she has an even bigger interest in this one. The trouble is, there’s no personal information to be found on Derek. It did take the characters a long time to figure out he might have changed his name but it wasn’t an annoying delay. Once his true background came out, so did a long list of true suspects and people who wanted him dead but not enough to do the deed. Lizzie’s got her work cut out for her and it’s complicated by the police escort she has trailing behind her, everywhere she goes.
Add in the elf costume she has to wear for the school’s holiday celebration and it just about makes her holiday complete.
The book club, school, and town characters, including Lizzie’s mom, are all pretty much folks you’d like to meet for coffee. At the back of the book, there’s a recommended reading list of favorite mysteries from each of the book club characters—you’ll feel immediate kinship.
A fun read that will get you into the holiday spirit, in spite of what happened while Lizzie was decorating!
Click this link to purchase Read and Buried:
Herald of Death by Kate Kingsbury
Set in England, at the time of horse and carriage and the beginning of motor cars, the Pennyfoot Hotel has a mixed reputation. Formerly a gambling house with rooms for dalliances, it’s now legalized but the police still hold a grudge. All things considered, it’s hard for PC Northcott to ask for Cecily Baxter’s help to solve the Christmas Angel murders.
The first death is poor Jimmy, the farm boy. Was it murder or an accident? He was hit in the head when a rock was thrown and then fell against the wagon wheel, breaking his neck. The scales tip to murder when Jimmy has a gold angel sticker on his forehead and a lock of his hair is missing.
Next the owner of the local shoe store is found dead in the snow, beaten to death with Jimmy’s whip. No doubt about it, this is murder.
More murders follow and no clues are to be had except for the angel stickers and missing hair. PC Northcott and his wife will never be able to leave town for their Christmas holiday if these deaths aren’t cleared up soon.
Cecily has her own problems. The Pennyfoot has received two cancellations so far because potential guests have heard about the murders. The snow is sticking around and is not why guests come to the Pennyfoot for the holidays. The annual pantomime is taking place—Peter Pan this year, complete with flying children, sure to cause chaos. Mr. Baxter has gotten Cecily to promise to stay out of further crimes—but he relents since this affects the hotel but has conditions to impose.
Add in two love interests with the servants, a former maid become a lady who returns for a visit, and a good friend and neighbor who is psychic, and it all adds up to a good read.
I did suspect who the murderer was and why but not until far along into the book. It didn’t spoil the story. English mysteries are not my first choice but I liked this one quite a lot, mostly due to the lack of detail—an odd comment but true. The author didn’t go into detail to tell me exactly where in England, how old the Baxters are, just that they are an older couple, not an overwhelming amount of back story as has become common, and not long descriptions of what they look like or are wearing. This leaves room to tell the story, to show personalities, and to keep me reading. As the English say, well done!
Previous Pennyfoot Hotel mysteries include:
Room with a Clue
Do Not Disturb
Service for Two
Eat, Drink and Be Buried
Grounds for Murder
Pay the Piper
Chivalry Is Dead
Ring for Tomb Service
Death with Reservations
Dying Room Only
Maid to Murder
Holiday Pennyfoot Hotel mysteries include:
No Clue at the Inn
Shrouds of Holly
Ringing in Murder
Decked with Folly
Mistletoe and Mayhem
The Clue is in the Pudding
There are also nine Manor House mysteries as well as three books written under the pen name of Rebecca Kent.
To enter to win copies of all 3 Christmas mysteries, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “Christmas”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 15, 2012. U.S. residents only.