Twas the Knife Before Christmas By Jacqueline Frost: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Dec 8, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

We have reviews and giveaways of a bunch of Christmas mysteries this week, including this one by Jacqueline Frost. We also have an interesting interview with Jacqueline aka Julie Chase aka Julie Anne Lindsey. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Twas the Knife Before Christmas, a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

Twas the Knife Before Christmas: A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery By Jacqueline Frost
Review by Sandra Murphy

Holly White is busier than an elf at the North Pole, working at her family’s Christmas tree farm, Reindeer Games. In addition to selling trees, she’s also made some gingerbread-themed jewelry, and it’s selling as fast as the real thing. She can barely keep up.

mystery book coverCupcake therapy at her friend Caroline’s bakery helps. After all, sugar means energy or at least that’s the justification. Of course, that all goes south when a dead body turns up behind the bakery. With the murder weapon beside it. Caroline’s custom-made marble rolling pin. The one with her fingerprints all over it.

Of course the case could be made that her prints would naturally be on the rolling pin since it is hers and she uses it daily for baking. The drawback is, she was seen arguing with the dead guy on the night of his death. It doesn’t look good for her.

Holly wants to help although her friend, Evan (the cop), says he’s got it covered. Sure, but what could asking a few questions here and there hurt? After all, Holly is positive Caroline is innocent. The dead guy was no saint, posting photos of himself with women who were unaware of the camera. That alone could lead to deadly thoughts.

In her personal life, Holly’s caught up in her family’s business, Caroline’s arrest, and a bit of romance for herself. There’s also another mystery to solve that doesn’t have closure in this book so readers will look forward to book number three in hopes of finding out just what happened with that. Twelve Slays of Christmas was the first book in the holiday series and was reviewed here. Certain to get you in a Christmas mood, Holly and her family and friends will have you thinking of the tree, ornaments, and holiday food in no time.

Writing as Julie Chase, Frost also wrote three cat-themed books—Cat Got Your Secrets, Cat Got Your Cash, and Cat Got Your Diamonds.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She writes about eco-friendly topics, pets and wildlife for magazines and reviews mysteries and thrillers for KRL. A collection of her short stories, published by Untreed Reads, From Hay to Eternity: Ten Tales of Crime and Deception can be found at all the usual outlets. Each one is a little weird and all have a twist you won’t see coming.

Interview with Jacqueline Frost aka Julie Chase:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Julie: I began writing in 2010, when I opened Google and typed, “How to write a book.”

KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?

Julie: My first full-length novel was Written on Her Heart, published in April 2013, from a small press which has since closed its doors. Written on Her Heart was a sweet, small town romance about a lonely young woman who finds a journal under a tree near a local lake. She opens the cover to find a name and return the books, but instead discovers the entries begin in World War II and continue to the present day, switching hands a few years prior to a solider in Iraq. She falls in love with the man on the pages and sets out to learn who he is in real life. Meanwhile, the man who forgot his journal beneath the tree is hoping it hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands because his deepest fears, heartbreaks and desires are written on those pages….unbeknownst to him they have also become “written on her heart.”

mystery author

Jacqueline Frost aka Julie Chase aka Julie Anne Lindsey

KRL Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not, what else have you written?

Julie: No, my brain tends to bounce around and so do my stories. I’ve written sweet small-town romances, paranormal young adult novels, suspense for young adults, contemporary young adult stories, lots of cozy mysteries and I also, currently, write romantic suspense for Harlequin.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.

Julie: The Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries is a series I write for Crooked Lane Books. A couple of years ago, they called my agent and said something like, “We had a meeting today and we think we can sell traditional cozy mysteries set on a Christmas Tree farm up north somewhere. Would Julie be interested in writing something like that?” I agreed, and that is how this series was born. They handed me the reins from there, and I dreamt the rest. This series is set in historic Mistletoe, Maine where Christmas is at the heart of life all year round. My heroine, Holly White, lives at Reindeer Games, her family’s Christmas Tree Farm, where they indulge in all the delights of the season from multiple flavors of hot cider and cocoa to fresh baked snickerdoodles and whoopie pies, plus community-wide Reindeer Games like Build-a-big-Frosty, Bling that Gingerbread, and a Blind Sled challenge. She lives with her slightly disgruntled rescue cat, Cindy-Lou-Who.

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

Julie: I write to entertain, probably because that’s the reason I read. I’ve always looked to book so take me away for a while. Now, I write stories with the same goal in mind. I want to make someone smile and give them a break from the day.

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

Julie: I write fulltime now. I have an office in my home, but sometimes I steal away to the local library for the day. Either way, I protect my writing time fiercely. Most people can’t understand the concept of writing as a job-job, so they freely step into my space and time or try to. I’m slowly learning not to allow that.

KRL: Do you outline? 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?

Julie: I’m a dedicated outliner. In fact, I give presentations and workshops for writers on the subject. Thanks to my thorough outlines, I can write a complete novel in about 28 days, though, I prefer to have 60.

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

Julie: Morning! I am a complete morning person and regularly wake at 5 a.m. to pour the coffee and begin the work. I frequently get more done between 6am and noon than I do the entire rest of the day. Possibly because my family is up by then.

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

Julie: Yes. Publishing is a tough, tough business. Finding a way in isn’t easy, and it doesn’t necessarily get better once you’re in. I’ve had friend who’ve had their series cancelled before they’ve finished the books under contract. I’ve known authors whose agents dumped them because they couldn’t sell any more of their stuff after the initial contract. Publisher close their doors or close their lines. Life happens. You can’t control your sales, and low sales can mean a publisher won’t work with you any longer. Readers might hate your work. None of that is within your control. It can be frustrating and heartbreaking. Writing is definitely not a career choice for the weak of heart, and nothing about it is easy.

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

Julie: My favorite acceptance story is the one about how I found my literary agent. For those who don’t know, the process is daunting and often happens in a number of steps over the course of months or years. Writers create a Query letter, a very specifically designed story-concept pitch meant to entice agents to ask for some pages. Writers send these to LOTS of agents, sometimes in batches of ten or more at a time, after researching agents who represent what the writer writes. From there, most agents ask for 6-12 weeks to respond. If the Query interests them, they will ask for a few pages or chapters of the work to see if the writing holds up. This is called a partial request, and agents ask for up to 3 months to review these pages. If those keep their interest, they will ask for a full manuscript. Reading and responding to a full manuscript can take up to a year, depending on the agent.

I had been writing and publishing with smaller presses and publishers that don’t require an agent for about 2 years when an editor at one of those publishers said I needed to think bigger and get a powerhouse agent who could move my career into the next level. It took months for her to convince me, but eventually, I had a novel ready, drafted a query letter and sent it to one agent. My dream agent, Jill Marsal at Marsal Lyon Lit. I sent the query late on a Friday night and woke Saturday morning to a request for my entire manuscript. Jill called me at 9am Monday morning (6 a.m. her time in California) and offered to represent me. By the end of the week, 7 days after I sent the single query letter, Jill had offers from three publishers for my book, Cat Got Your Diamonds.

I’ve been with Jill 3 years now, and in that time, we have contracted 18 books with 4 publishers, and I have 8 new releases coming in 2019. Having the right connection to this industry is priceless, and Jill’s offer of representation has changed my life.

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

Julie: I hope to see one of my stories make a bestseller list one day or win a prominent award. Something that will make me feel like I’m doing things right and readers are happy.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Julie: My writing hero is Janet Evanovich. Her Stephanie Plum books and the Diesel and Lizzie series make me smile every time. She inspires me to make others laugh. I’d like to meet her one day and thank you for that.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Julie: My biggest research comes by travel. I like to visit the places I write about and spend some time there. I want to know what the local cultures and vibes are, what the people are like and what does the air feel like on my skin? I attend conferences and workshops with local FBI, ATF and other agencies to learn about the more mechanical side of things. Processes. Crimes gone wrong. The criminal mind etc., but for character and world building, I like to spend a week or more where the story will take place.

KRL: What do you read?

Julie: I read a lot of my favorites over and over, but also try to keep up with various bestsellers through my book club. My favorites are romances and books with teen heroes and heroines. Also, cozy mysteries and the occasional psychological thriller.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Julie: SO many. Off the top of my head, I can name about twenty things I’ve seen in the last month: BBC Sherlock, Arrow, Legacies, Magnum PI, Lethal Weapon, Handmaid’s Tale, Santa Clarita Diet, Riverdale, All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Supernatural, Jessica Jones, a TON of home makeover shows and old Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Julie: It sounds lame, but just don’t give up. It’s your dream and no one is going to chase it for you, so no matter how discouraging it gets, keep going. If you need a break, take one, but don’t let go completely. Writers must write. It’s in our hearts and souls and minds, and I’ve found that there is no one more miserable than a writer who’s not writing.

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

Julie: I’m a super scaredy cat. The list of things that terrify me is much longer than the list of things that don’t. If you are ever reading a scene of mine where the heroine is afraid, you can be assured that I whimpered, sweated and cried along with her as she ran or hid of her life, despite the fact that I was in control of the outcome.

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?

Julie: Facebook: OR
Twitter: @JulieALindsey

KRL: What do you like best about Christmas?

Julie: My favorite part about Christmas is the way that hearts become so tender this time of year. Frantic as life can be during the holidays, we, as a people, seem more aware of one another and the needs of our neighbors, families and friends. I see people reaching out, stopping to help and giving of their time and resources in the name of Christmas. It gives me hope for a better tomorrow and restores my faith. I love waking on Christmas morning to the love of my family and sharing the reminder that Jesus was born a man, so he could become the sacrifice for my sins and the sins of the world. As a Christian, a human, a mother, wife, daughter and friend, everything about the season makes me very, very, happy.

To enter to win a copy of Twas the Knife Before Christmas, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “knife,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 15, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters. Our latest episode is set at Christmas time.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on 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 using those links. 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. Thanks for the interview another chance to win!
    Book looks good!

    faithdcreech at gmail dot com

  2. Sounds interesting.

  3. I just finished reading the first book of the series. Now I want to live on a Christmas tree farm! I am so glad this new book is out! Thank you for giving it away!

  4. This sounds like a great holiday read.
    Donah42 at aol dot com

  5. Here’s another new series for me, thanks! I’d love to win a copy!

  6. This sounds like a terrific read for December! Thanks for the chance!


  7. sounds like a great series – looking forward to reading it – thanks for the contest – trwilliams 69 at msn dot com

  8. So many new books, so little money in the budget but hopefully Santa will be generous this year. Jacqueline Frost is new to me so it is great to be able to learn more about her and her book on your blog. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

  9. A Christmas Tree Farm is the perfect background. My Sister and I would love it and then she has the added bonus of being born on Christmas Day. Thanks for the chance.

  10. New author and series to me. Looking forward to reading.

  11. Christmas and a mystery – what more
    could you want. Thanks.

  12. Opening the link for this book introduced me to a new name for an author I’ve already met. I went on line to my local library and put in a hold for the first book in this series. I’d love to win this book to read and then donate it to that library so others can share it. (the library buyers don’t always buy the next book in a series)

  13. I love the idea of a mystery set at a Christmas tree farm and nice that it’s set in Maine. Love New England settings for mysteries.

  14. We have a winner!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.