Deadly Christmas Play
It’s been three years since we last got to visit Merry Wilkinson and the town of Rudolph, New York. Not that author Vicki Delany has slowed down in her output, but she’s been working on other series. Fortunately, Crooked Lane decided to pick up the charming Year-Round Christmas Mysteries, and we get to visit again in Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas.
If you’ve missed this series, when the town of Rudolph had to reinvent itself, it decided to capitalize on its name and become a year-round Christmas destination. They go all out twice a year – December, obviously, but also July when Santa (as played by Merry’s dad) arrives for his summer vacation. Merry herself runs Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, an upscale gift and decor shop. While the town celebrates Christmas all year long, we tend to visit during December, not that I’m complaining.
This December, Merry’s mother, opera singer Aline Steiner, has agreed to come out of retirement to join the local theater company’s musical version of A Christmas Carol. Since this is an amateur production, the talent level is about what you’d expect, but after last year’s play flopped, there is added pressure on this year’s production to succeed.
And that pressure is coming through during rehearsals. Merry is on hand to witness some of the drama, including actors trying to take on bigger roles. Then someone associated with the play is killed in Merry’s shop, and the police look at Merry’s assistant, who is in the play, as a potential killer. Can Merry figure out what really happened?
Since it had been three years since our last visit to Rudolph, I was afraid I wouldn’t remember the characters and their relationships. I needn’t have worried. As soon as I started reading, I felt right at home again. If you are new to the series, this means you could easily jump in here, although you’ll definitely want to go back and solve the other festive murders in this series.
The book does a good job of setting up the situation and the suspect before the murder happens. We got some fun twists and red herrings along the way. However, I felt like the pacing was uneven, especially in the second half. Still, we do get a great climax that explains everything to us.
And the characters are still wonderful. As I said a minute ago, I was quickly back at home with them and enjoying the town of Rudolph. There are some interesting developments with a couple of the characters, and I’m curious to see where things go in any future books.
Those looking for Christmas spirit will also love this book. As you’d expect there is plenty of it here. It made me want to break out my Christmas music and decorations even though it’s mid-September.
It is so wonderful to have this series back. Whether you are a longtime fan or new to the series, if you enjoy a Christmas cozy mystery, you need to pick up Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas.
Here are the rest of the Year-Round Christmas Mysteries.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.