It’s off to merry old England for Gemma Doyle, co-workers and friends, for a Sherlock Holmes convention. It gives Gemma a chance to visit with her parents, Anne and Henry, who live in London, as well as to pick up some new stock for the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. However, it’s not all tea, scones and Holmes.
While at the convention, Henry and Gemma encounter Randolph Manning, Anne’s estranged brother and the black sheep of the family. Thirty years previously he’d disappeared after taking an expensive painting that belonged to his parents. To say that the meeting was awkward and fraught with tension would be an understatement. When Henry is later found bending over Randolph’s lifeless body, he is quickly taken into custody. Gemma is determined to clear her father’s name.
Delany provides us with an interesting plot and enough twists and turns to keep the reader anxious to turn the next page. Her characters are believable and realistic and the setting is accurately depicted. I enjoyed the storyline concerning Gemma’s sister, Pippa, and the “hush hush” nature of her job (not unlike Holmes’ brother Mycroft). A perfect cozy for any kind of day!
So what are you looking for in a Christmas mystery?
If you’re looking for an atmospheric, cozy mystery then choose something by Canadian writer, Vicki Delany. Her latest novel, Silent Night, Deadly Night, has a good mystery at its core as the residents of Rudolph (a year-round Christmas community) are subjected to a group of “grinches” who almost kill the spirit of Christmas. Christmas lives, but one of the grinches does not.
I’d steer away from Leslie Meier’s latest – Yule Log Murder. A shallower group of characters you’ll never find. And when it comes to plot? Well, you’d get more satisfaction from reading the back of a cereal box!
It is said that “variety is the spice of life” and you’ll find that in abundance in Otto Penzler’s anthology: Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop. For seventeen years Penzler (owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York), commissioned a Christmas story from a leading suspense writer. The stories were printed as pamphlets (a limited number of 1000 only) and handed out to the customers as a Christmas present. All seventeen are now contained in one volume and there are certainly some gems amongst them.
L.J. Oliver’s The HumbugMurders is the first book in The Ebenezer Scrooge Mystery series. Scrooge is tasked with investigating the murder of his former boss, Fezziwig, when Fezziwig’s ghost visits him one night. The book is peopled by so many of the characters from Dickens’ novels that some simply pop in, make an appearance and then disappear, never to be heard of again. About the only character we don’t encounter is Madame Defarge! Overstuffed with characters, and a series of repulsive crimes make this a most unenjoyable read.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All. May you find some great “reads” under your Christmas tree!