Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost is the first book in the NEW “Christmas Tree Farm” mystery series. Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, coming October 10, 2017
When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime―exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.
When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn’t watch out, she’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s jolly series debut.
I love this story and I love the premise. Mistletoe, Maine is the setting and Christmas is the game. This was a fun and exciting whodunit that had our heroine working to fit the pieces of the puzzle together to find a murderer who was hiding in plain sight and as Holly gets closer, the stakes are higher and threats abound. Working simpatico with the local sheriff adds to the rich flavor in how this story is told.
This well-written drama grabbed me immediately and I wanted to savor all that I read. I love the pacing and the comfortable tone that followed throughout each chapter as we are introduced to a bountiful of characters, one of which is the killer. The author did a very fine job in keeping me busy with all that was happening on the page, from Holly’s return home, to finding the victim, to aligning herself with the various people who could or could not be the killer, to seeking out clues, and to the camaraderie she has with the sheriff. The mystery was strategically set-up to keep me focused on the festivities as well as every little nuance that took me closer to the killer’s identity. I enjoyed watching it all play out as each character had a pivotal role that shaped how well this jovial tale unfolded. Boasting a lovable cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a feel-good atmosphere, this debut novel is everything a like in a cozy and I can’t wait for the next book in this delightfully charming new series.
FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.