Release Date: Oct 10, 2017
Series: A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Holly White has just returned to her hometown of Mistletoe, Maine and her family’s Christmas tree farm after a broken engagement leaves her devastated. She is just in time to help her family prepare for their busiest time of year and is glad for the distraction from her canceled wedding. Things change when the gruff president of the Mistletoe Historical Society, Margaret Fenwick, is brutally murdered and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm. Holly’s father, Bud, becomes Sheriff Evan Grey’s prime suspect. Now instead of trimming trees and enjoying Christmas treats, she must put finding the real killer at the top of her list to prove her father’s innocence and keep the family’s tree farm in business.
This is the first book in a new series by the author of the Kitty Couture mysteries, written as Julie Chase. The book is good start to what could be an excellent series. The highlights are the likeable, relatable characters and the Christmas tree farm setting. The descriptions of the tree farm, its craft shop, and especially the café, from the tables made to look like chocolate bars with black licorice legs, candy-cane striped booths, and delicious homemade treats, make me wish Reindeer Games was a real place I could visit this holiday season. However, while I enjoyed the book and found it entertaining, I didn’t find it compelling. The pace is just a little too slow and the investigation drawn out a little too long to keep me glued to the pages.
However, the book is well-plotted and I appreciate that clues are given to the identity of the killer, even though I didn’t correctly guess “whodunnit”. Once the killer is revealed, a logical motive is given and I was pleased at how everything is resolved. Most cozy mysteries have some elements of romance and in this case, two different men are interested in Holly, but to me, one man stands out as the best match for Holly. Instead of the more predictable triangle, it appears by the end of the book that Holly may have made her choice, and if so, I happily support her decision. If future books have a little faster pacing and more depth to the actual sleuthing, I will happily return to Mistletoe, Maine.