Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings By Liz Ireland: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Dec 5, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have a review of another Christmas mystery, this one by Liz Ireland, along with an interesting interview with Liz. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and links to purchase it.

Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings by Liz Ireland
Review by Sandra Murphy

April and Nick met at her B&B in Oregon. They soon fell in love and he proposed. She said yes and moved North with him, having no idea what she was getting herself into. Nick is the real Santa Claus, having inherited the title when his brother, Chris, died in a hunting accident.

Now April has to get used to the extreme cold, and learn the traditions and manners befitting a member of the Claus family. It’s a task not unlike learning to be a royal. The dowager Mrs. Claus, Pamela, Nick’s mother, is a stickler for rules and despairs of April ever getting the hang of it.

Giblet Hollyberry is a cranky elf, in charge of the wrapping operations, not that he’s qualified. He publicly accuses Nick of murder, and then, is found dead himself the very next day. It’s unheard of to suspect a member of the Claus family—until a second death occurs. April has to find out the truth to protect her husband and Christmas itself.

This is a good mystery wrapped inside a quirky cover. Reindeer talk, snowmen walk around albeit slowly, and the Constable makes Barney Fife look like James Bond. The Hollyberry family is up in arms over Giblet’s death although none of them really liked him all that much. Chris’ widow wanders through the family home dressed like a Goth while Lucia, Nick’s sister, keeps a reindeer in her room.

If December in Santaland isn’t enough stress, April is also in charge of the annual musical performance. Really, the elf cloggers are not to be missed. Applaud nicely, they try so very hard.

Put on an extra sweater while reading this tale of the land of ice and snow, where ice sculptures never melt. The descriptions are so good, readers will long for a mug of hot chocolate and a few Christmas cookies. A fun read, perfect for the holidays.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. A Murder of Crows, edited by Sandra Murphy (a popular title so you need her name to search), has twenty-one cozy stories. Each features the collective name of an animal and a crime. The animals range from tarantulas, koalas, wolves, bears, jellyfish, toads, cats, dogs, alpaca, goats, penguins and more. No animals were harmed. The people weren’t so lucky. Available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

Interview with author Liz Ireland:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Liz: I started taking writing seriously in college, when I discovered playwriting. After that, I knew writing was what I wanted to do.

KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?

Liz: My first novel was a Silhouette Romance (remember those?) called Man Trap, which was released in 1993. It was a sweet romantic comedy about an eccentric inventor and a buttoned-down businesswoman.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not what else have you written?

Liz: I’m relatively new to mysteries. I started out writing contemporary and historical romances, and then wrote several “chick lit” books in the early 2000s, along with women’s fiction under my real name, Elizabeth Bass. It wasn’t until 2018 that I published my first mystery novel, a historical mystery called Murder in Greenwich Village, under my pseudonym Liz Freeland.

Liz Ireland

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Liz: My editor suggested writing a Christmas story, and I knew immediately that I wanted to set the book in Santaland in the North Pole. The notion of mixing elves and murder grabbed me. Also, I’d been working on historical mysteries set during the 1910s in New York City, which required pretty intensive research, so the idea of inventing a world of pure fantasy really called out to me. Although I do some research for the Mrs. Claus mysteries. I now know more about reindeer than I ever dreamed I would.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Liz: Most of the time I write purely to entertain, although in some of my work I have tackled darker subjects. My favorite reading is when I’m completely absorbed in a character’s life, however dark or silly their troubles may be. That’s my goal in writing—to involve the reader so deeply that the world and maybe the troubles around them fall away for a little while.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Liz: My goal is to write every day, but sometimes life gets in the way. My process is to write for a few hours, usually pen on paper, and then copy the day’s work onto my computer, revising it a little as I go. This is a little cumbersome, but it works for me.

KRL: Do you outline and if not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Liz: I am an outliner. My synopsis is my safety net. While writing my current book, I had to throw out my less-than-stellar outline halfway through my first draft, which has reminded me that I need a (well thought-out) outline. The creative surprises that pop up from writing off the cuff are enjoyable, but it’s been unnerving for me not to know what’s going to happen.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Liz: The best time of day to write is early morning, before anyone else is stirring and my mind is fresh. 2020 has turned me upside-down, though, and I’ve gotten into a groove where I write at night after the day is finished and the house is quiet—I’ve pulled a few all-nighters during the pandemic. The challenge for me is finding several hours to shut out the world, email, Tweets…everything but the story. I’ve never been able to write in short sprints.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Liz: When I was just out of college, I wrote short stories that were all rejected promptly and emphatically, which was good for developing a thick skin. Every writer needs a rhinoceros hide.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Liz: My first romance novel languished on an editor’s desk for over a year, and my way of dealing with the wait was to write more books. By the time it was finally accepted, I had two more books finished which were also acquired quickly. It was probably my happiest month as a writer!

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Liz: My book signings have all been happily uneventful. I look forward to the pandemic’s end and being able to meet readers and other authors in person again!

KRL: Future writing goals?

Liz: Right now, I have a new series I’m researching and a historical novel I very much want to write, in addition to the two series I’m currently working on and hope to continue. I would love to write shorter fiction, too. The challenge is finding time to get to all the projects I have planned.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Liz: There are so many authors who have influenced me. The biggest one was probably Anne Tyler, whose books I began reading as a teenager. And I owe so much to authors who also have written books on writing that have helped me such over the years: Lawrence Block, Hallie Ephron, and Anne Lamott, to name just three. The generosity of writers helping other writers always impresses me.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Liz: When a project first begins to percolate, especially a historical idea, I read books about the time, subject, or place. I also like to read contemporary popular fiction from that period. A lot of attitudes, slang, and details of daily life show up in the works of Edna Ferber or Booth Tarkington, for instance, that wouldn’t necessarily be relayed in a history book. Advertisements and popular music also inspire me. Once I’ve started a book, I do a lot of online research and fact-checking.

KRL: What do you read?

Liz: The majority of what I read is crime fiction, but I don’t have a favorite sub-genre. I flit from golden age sleuths to contemporary police procedurals and detective fiction, and there are several historical fiction and cozy series I follow, too. I’m also addicted to psychological suspense. I love reading older fiction—Victorian novels and fiction from the early twentieth century. I also enjoy history and biographies.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Liz: I’m a classic film junkie, and I also love old TV shows, especially old cop shows like The Naked City, 87th Precinct, and Kojak. The contemporary shows I love skew heavily toward British police dramas: Happy Valley, Line of Duty, Vera. I could watch Foyle’s War on an endless loop.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Liz: Write what you love, but don’t fall so in love with a project that you can’t bear to change it. Step back once in a while and try to be objective about your own work: not only about its flaws, but also what you’re doing that’s uniquely you. Play to your strengths!

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Liz: Just that all aspiring authors should join and try to participate in a writer’s organization. Whether it’s a national organization like Sisters in Crime or Romance Writers of America, or a local literary group, they exist to help lift writers up, offer them help, and provide a group of peers to turn to. It took me much longer than it should have to learn this. Writing is a solitary profession, but we aren’t in it alone.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Liz: I’m learning to play euphonium. Practicing music is my stress release.

KRL: Since your book is a Christmas book, do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?

Liz: I’m a classic film buff and Christmas is Humphrey Bogart’s birthday, so every Christmas I have a movie fest featuring at least one Bogie film. I even have a special goofy holiday sweater: one Christmas years ago my mom gave me a hand-knit red sweater with Humphrey Bogart on it. It’s pulled out of mothballs every December 25th.

KRL: How fun! Website? Twitter? Facebook?

Twitter: @writes_liz

To enter to win a copy of Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “santaland,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 12, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week!

You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

You can use this link to purchase these book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. One of the perks of the Christmas
    season is all the fun books that
    come out with ties to that season.
    this sounds like fun. thanks

  2. Interesting interview with a writer with a lot of experience. Count me in the drawing!

  3. This would be a fun series to start reading around Christmas time. I love to read holiday themed books at this time of year. It is always a great time to start discovering a new book series, in my opinion!

  4. This sounds like a really fun book. I’d love to “visit” Santaland.

  5. What a fun plot idea. I think we’d all enjoy this story, thanks for the chance to win a copy! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  6. Cute cover, sounds good! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  7. This sounds like a real fun read that I’d want to share with friends. Please enter me in the giveaway.

  8. Sounds like a great holiday read. Thanks for the chance.

  9. I love that there are lots of quirky characters!

  10. This sounds like a fun Christmas read. Thank you for the chance.

  11. Just watched Liz’s interview with Poisoned Pen. She is a new to me author.

    I don’t generally do fantasy series, but if it is a crime novel then count me in.

    Karen94066 at

  12. I just started the book last night and I am hooked! Perfect Christmas Cozy to get me through to Christmas. Thank you for offering it as a giveaway prize.
    Merry Christmas

  13. We have a winner!

  14. I really want to read this book! I love the cover and it sounds like a fun book.



  1. Interview and Giveaway | Liz Ireland - […] Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings By Liz Ireland: Review/Giveaway/Interview […]

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