Sunday, December 28, 2008

Murder for Christmas, Part Three

Part One here!
Part Two here!

I read three more Christmas mysteries on my Murder for Christmas spree:

Mistletoe and Murder by Carola Dunn: This is the eleventh Daisy Dalrymple mystery, and I've only read the first. However, I had no trouble jumping in and figuring out what was going on. Daisy's mother is Lady Dalrymple, but Daisy is a reporter for Town and Country (shocking!) during the 1920s. She and her family end up (in a convoluted way) staying at Brockdene, a Cornish estate, for Christmas. Questionable parentage, entailed estates, poor relations, and hidden treasure make this a delightful holiday cozy. A wet-blanket priest protests against the Christmas decorations, among other things, but he's mercifully killed off. Daisy and her Scotland Yard husband investigate to uncover the murder. Daisy is a bit more blase than I would be about her child being in the vicinity of a murder, and there are a few too many exclamations of "Blast!" added for period authenticity, but that's fine. A fun holiday cozy.

Mrs. Jeffries and the Silent Knight by Emily Brightwell: I'm not sure why, but I had a little trouble getting into this one at first. This is the 20th in the series, so that's probably it. Once I got into, though, I was hooked, and I'll definitely read this series from the beginning. The premise is that Inspector Witherspoon's servants actually solve his cases, giving him clues without making him aware of it. Mrs. Jeffries, the housekeeper, is the leader, and all the servants get in on the action with their own special skills. I was a bit disturbed that the book began with the servants lamenting that they hadn't had a murder to solve in a long time, but I suppose there wasn't much in the way of entertainment for the serving class back then. Witherspoon's case, the murder of Sir Braxton, is a tricky one--Braxton is some sort of cousin to the Queen and the mystery must be solved quietly before Christmas. Sir Braxton's daughter's don't like him, and neither does anyone else, really--he's not a nice person and he didn't pay his creditors. Once I got into the story, I really liked Mrs. Jeffries and all the servants. It's a fun bunch, and the mystery was entertaining.

A Catered Christmas by Isis Crawford: This was the big surprise out of this batch. I haven't read the first two in the series about sisters Bernie and Libby, who own A Little Taste of Heaven, a store? restaurant? I think just a store. I felt I was missing some background (who was this Bree person and why didn't they tell her to take a hike?) and there were some annoyances (Bernie twists her ring when she's nervous, which is kind of pointless to bring up periodically--adds nothing to the story) and I was annoyed by the wandering point of view, but there was a lot to like in this book. Bernie and Libby participate in a televised competition hosted by Martha Stewart-like Hortense Calabash. When Hortense's holiday preparations literally blow up in her face, Bernie and Libby (and their ex-cop father, Sean) investigate. There's a wealth of suspects, from the competitors, all of whom have secrets, to the producer, to Hortense's assistant. I liked the sisters and the competition was funny. Lots of Christmas preparations make it festive. A decent mystery with engaging characters.

No comments: