by Sandra Murphy
& Peggy Ehrhart
This week we have a Christmas book that is actually 3 books in one-Christmas Card Murder by Leslie Meier, Death of a Christmas Carol by Lee Hollis and Death of a Christmas Card Crafter by Peggy Ehrhart. We also have a fun Christmas guest post from one of the authors, Peggy Ehrhart. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and links to purchase it.
This three-in-one book of Christmas mysteries is perfect for those who have limited time to read and…who doesn’t that describe this time of year? Make a cup of hot chocolate, add tiny marshmallows, and enjoy a good mystery.
Christmas Card Murder by Leslie Meier
Lucy Stone is tired of hitting her head when making the bed. Adding a bedroom upstairs had been a good idea, but the sloping roof on either side made changing the sheets a hazardous occupation. Her husband, Bill, is a contractor so why can’t he work on their house for a change? For Christmas, she’d like a bedroom she can walk around in while remaining upright and a master bath hideaway. Is that too much to ask?
Focused on the result, she forgot how messy renovation can be. Luckily, she has a distraction in the form of a Christmas card with a nasty message inside. With the help of her friends and former librarian Miss Tilly, Lucy is determined to find out who sent the hateful card and why.
The newspaper where Lucy works is inundated with irate phone calls due to an article about Phillip Radcliffe, convicted of killing a young lifeguard years before. Evidence was circumstantial, he maintained his innocence, and now a group has worked to get him released. Will he return to Tinker’s Cove?
Only ten chapters long, this story moves fast, tying all the clues and loose ends together for a satisfactory conclusion.
Death of a Christmas Carol by Lee Hollis
The annual holiday party is almost ready to start at the Island Times newspaper office. The food looks great, the employees and their plus-ones are scheduled to arrive, and the decorations are festive. Still, Haley worries something will go wrong. Mona, her friend, is there and loves Hayley’s appetizers. It’s a full-time job just to keep Mona and the goodies apart until everyone is served.
Carol Waterman is a fortyish woman who prefers twentyish men. She’s on the guest list and that’s enough to make anyone nervous. She’s been seen around town with the youngest reporter, David, who’s been asked to hand deliver her Christmas card addresses to Hayley, Mona, and Rosana. Inside, Carol announces she’s moving away and is taking one of their husbands with her!
With no hints as to which one, the women are in a panic, particularly since the husbands are supposed to be at the party but haven’t shown up. Each wife can think of a time Carol cozied up to their husbands. The suspense is too much and they go to Carol’s house to confront her.
It seems someone already has—Carol’s dead, strangled with a Christmas tree garland. Will the crime be solved before Santa’s arrival? Whose husband was Carol’s new love interest? And will Mona eat all the cheesecake?
The fifteen chapters include recipes for Mona’s favorite no bake cheesecake, hot buttered rum, eggnog martini, pin wheel appetizers, candy cane vodka cocktail, and candy cane bark.
Death of a Christmas Card Crafter by Peggy Ehrhart
Each year, local crafters set up in St. Willibrod’s church hall to sell their wares at the Holiday Craft Fair with the proceeds going to the Arborville High School art, drama, and music departments. Pamela and Bettina are two mainstays of the Knit and Nibble knitters and are working at the group’s table. Karma Karling, the art teacher, designs a special Christmas card each year based on the song, Twelve Days of Christmas. This year is the twelve drummers drumming.
When a body is found in the Christmas tree lot, everyone is stunned to find it’s Karma’s. Who would want to kill a beloved teacher? The police soon zero in a knitter who fashions tiny fairy-sized sweaters as tree ornaments. One was found at the scene.
Pamela and Bettina have assisted the police on other cases (welcome or not), and since this hits close to home, they’re on the job. Usually, Pamela’s daughter, Penny, would be against their involvement, but since Karma was her favorite teacher, Penny’s as eager to find the killer as Pamela and Bettina. Can they do it in time to save Christmas?
At the end of the twelve chapters is a pattern for a doll sweater (not the tiny ornament design), and recipes for chocolate mousse cake and not-too-sweet quick bread.
A Very Un-Cozy Christmas
by Peggy Ehrhart
The cozy mystery, with its pleasant small-town setting, eccentric characters, and notable lack of violence (though someone has to be killed, of course!) is wildly popular now, and it’s a style I’ve happily embraced as a writer. But in its most basic sense, cozy is a physical sensation. Nothing says cozy like falling snow—glimpsed through a window as one sits indoors by a crackling fire, sipping tea with a cat on one’s lap. That’s the atmosphere my two Christmas Knit & Nibble mysteries aim to evoke: this year’s Death of a Christmas Card Crafter and last year’s Silent Knit, Deadly Knit, set in chilly northern New Jersey where I live.
These Christmases, however, are very different from the Christmases I knew as a child. I’ve lived in New Jersey for more than half my life now, but I grew up in southern California. Shortly after they married, my parents bought a few acres of land on a dirt road in the San Fernando Valley—flat and dusty as far as the eye could see and not that long removed from the era when the Valley’s main industries were agriculture and cattle. They built a two-room house, working on weekends and at night, and that’s where we lived until I was in third grade. At that point we moved into a larger house, also built by my parents, and the little house became the “Little House”—guest quarters for visiting family.
It doesn’t snow in the San Fernando Valley. Actually, it snowed once—not on Christmas—when I was about four. We woke up in our little house and looked out to see the ground magically white. Using my father’s socks in place of mittens, my younger sister and I ran outside and managed to roll a few grimy snowballs and make a grimy snowman. The layer of snow was so thin—about half an inch—that as the snowballs rolled and picked up more snow they also picked up a layer of dirt.
Despite the uncooperative climate, the Valley’s inhabitants strove to observe the customary Christmas rituals. A grocery store anchored our “downtown,” maybe half a mile from where we lived, surrounded by empty fields. At Christmas, however, a Christmas tree lot magically appeared there, rows of fragrant evergreens somehow withstanding sunny days and mild temperatures. And as an adjunct to the Christmas tree lot came reindeer, in chicken wire pens, to be stared at and even petted. I have no idea where they lived for the remaining eleven months of the year, but for the month of December they occupied a dusty lot as unlike the North Pole as one could imagine.
Images of “real” Christmas reached us in magazines and films, on Christmas cards, and on the album covers of holiday carol collections: carolers bundled in wooly scarves and hats, blinking at snowflakes as they sipped steaming cups of hot chocolate; slumbering towns buried in snow as stars twinkled overhead in a frosty night sky; men bundled like lumberjacks trekking through knee-high snow drifts bearing fresh-cut Christmas trees on their shoulders.
We would take our tree home and set it up in the living room part of our two-room house. We actually had a fireplace, with brass pig andirons that I can picture to this day. With a cozy, but largely unneeded, fire burning, we would decorate our tree, laboriously adding silvery tinsel to its branches, one strand at a time, to replicate the effect of icicles. And outside, a row of multicolored Christmas lights strung across the house’s roofline by my father would announce to the handful of neighbors on our dusty road that Christmas was being celebrated within.
To enter to win a copy of Christmas Card Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “card,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 19, 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 Christmas episode went up this week, and another one goes up next week!
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