Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Book Review: Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings by Liz Ireland (Mrs. Claus #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Christmas cheer, solid mystery, fun
Cons: Nothing deserving of the naughty list
The Bottom Line:
Murder at Christmas
Victim? Elf at the North Pole
In this nice debut

Murder at the North Pole

The instant that Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings cross my radar, I knew I had to read it.  With as much as I love Christmas, a cozy mystery set at the north pole with Mrs. Claus as the main character?  I knew it would be my cup of hot cocoa.

April’s life changed completely when she learned Nick, the man she had fallen in love with, was Santa Claus.  Now, she’s spending her first Christmas at the North Pole as Mrs. Claus.  However, the stress of the holiday is nothing compared to the death of an elf.

Giblet Hollyberry was not an especially popular elf, but his death comes the day after he had a very public fight with Santa.  While the rest of the Claus clan doesn’t seem that concerned, April worries that the evidence is pointing toward her new husband.  The North Pole isn’t normally a hotbed of crime, but it seems someone is doing their best to put Santa on the naughty list this year.  Can April keep that from happening?

At its heart, this book is a cozy mystery.  All the familiar elements are there – a wonderful setting, characters we love, and a puzzle that focuses on who done it.  The story is fast moving, with several good suspects and a steady pace of clues, red herrings, and revelations that kept me hooked until we reached the logical climax.

But it’s the setting that makes this one stand apart.  We’re talking Santa, the North Pole, and elves.  (Not to mention reindeer and snowmen.)  Obviously, there is a fantasy element to the book.  That element is handled perfectly.  We are introduced to things as we need to know about them, and since April is still getting used to her new life, there is much she is learning right along with us.

Of course, it helps that the characters are all wonderful.  We could relate to just about everyone, which helped pull us into the story and made the fact that they weren’t all human irrelevant.

And this book heaped on the Christmas cheer.  I had to dig out my Christmas music while I was reading this book because it put me that much in the Christmas spirit.  There are wonderful nods to all things Christmas and puns through the book, and I smiled multiple times at them as I was reading.

I do have to say that I had to work to overcome my picture of the North Pole from countless Christmas specials and movies over the years.  That’s not quite the world that April is living in.  But as that world comes to life for us, it became easier and easier.

Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings belongs at the top of your nice list.  Whether you devour it now or savor it in December, you will enjoy every page and join me in looking forward to Mrs. Claus’s next case.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

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