Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny Christmas mystery
Cons: Who do you think I am, Scrooge?
The Bottom Line:
Stingy man next door
Jaine finds a Christmas murder
Bah Humbug Murder
Normally, I read Laura Levine's books almost as soon as I get my hands on them. However, I had to save Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge for my annual Christmas cozy readathon. It was certainly worth the wait.
Christmas is coming, and Jaine Austen has landed a sweet housesitting gig thanks to her neighbor Lance. The two of them are staying at a mansion in Bel Air, and Jaine is quickly loving the luxuries of the place. And it's perfect since this is a slow season for Jaine's freelance writing work.
Thanks to Jaine's cat, Prozac, she winds up meeting the neighbors. Scotty Parker in particular is a pain. The man is a former child actor best known for his performance as Tiny Tim in a mostly forgotten remake of A Christmas Carol. However, he seems to have taken on the attributes of Scrooge, pinching pennies and getting into fights with his neighbors. He's even roped Jaine into helping him polish up his masterpiece, a bloated script called The Return of Tiny Tim: Vengeance Is Mine!. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds.
Christmas morning proves that someone has been very naughty when Jaine finds Scotty's dead body. The police seem to think she makes a great suspect, so Jaine puts on her part time, semi-professional PI hat in order to clear herself of the crime. But with so many suspects, will Jaine figure out who killed Scotty?
Those who are familiar with the series know exactly what to expect here. If that's you, know you'll love this book as much as the others.
As usual, the murder takes place later in the action than some of the series I read, but the pages aren't waisted. By the time Scotty dies, Jaine has already met several viable suspects with strong motives. As she goes about trying to nail down alibis, she only gains more. The ending makes perfect sense when Jaine does finally piece everything together.
Along the way, we get some fun sub-plots. Lance has signed Jaine up for an on-line dating site, and we are treated to several dates. Plus, Lance has a new crush of his own. Meanwhile, Jaine's parents and several of their neighbors are taking a cruise. We are treated to their misadventures thanks to a series of e-mails from Jaine’s parents. Just from the initial e-mails from her parents, I knew we were in for a treat with that sub-plot, and I was highly rewarded.
Yes, this is a comedic mystery. There are a few strong laughs, mostly coming from these sub-plots, and plenty of grins and snickers as Jaine works her way through the latest misadventure.
The characters are more caricatures in this series, and that holds true again here. They are designed to give us laughs, but they totally fit into Jaine's world. Trust me, you won't be complaining about that as you breeze through this book.
And the ending? I'm very anxious to see exactly where that goes in the next book.
Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge is a delightfully fun Christmas mystery and another great addition to the Jaine Austen series. Fans old and new will be left with a smile on their face as the pages fly by all too quickly.
Looking for more laughs and clues? Here are the rest of the Jaine Austen Mysteries in order.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.