Release Date: Oct 29, 2019
I really enjoy this type of light mystery collection for the holidays. This book includes stories by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier. All three are older stories, so anyone following the novels will know that things have progressed for the characters since the time of these stories. I have read some or all of the books in all three series, but the book would also be a great introduction for new readers. Happily, all of the stories were new to me, so I really enjoyed the book.
I have had mixed feelings about some of the newer books in Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series, but this older story, The Twelve Desserts of Christmas is excellent. It’s a mystery only in the loosest sense of the word, but it’s still enjoyable. While providing Christmas desserts for boarding school students who aren’t able to go home for the holidays, Hannah has to get to the bottom of why the budding romance between the two teachers staying at the school abruptly fades. There are no murders in this sweet story, just friends helping each other and plenty of recipes for Hannah’s delicious desserts.
Nightmare of Elf Street by Laura Levine is my favorite of the three stories. When looking for a laugh out loud story, Levine never disappoints me. When trying to win a job writing ads for an upscale mall, Jaine Austen gets roped into filling in as one of Santa’s elves. A bad situation gets worse when Prozac wreaks havoc at the mall while there for a holiday card photo shoot. There is a lot going on in this story, including a dead Santa with Jaine the prime suspect for murder. Jaine begins investigating to clear her own name and the story concludes with a hilarious, upbeat ending.
I have read some of Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone novels and I enjoyed this short story called The Christmas Thief which features Lucy’s daughter Elizabeth as the main character. While filling in as the concierge at a luxurious hotel in Florida, Elizabeth is suspected of stealing very valuable jewels belonging to a high profile couple staying at the hotel. There is a large build-up to this even and I really liked seeing Elizabeth at work trying to cater to the whims of the rich and famous. When things start to go wrong, she calls her mother and Lucy and her elderly friend Miss Tilley travel from Maine to Florida to help. I had to suspend disbelief as Lucy encouraged her daughter to break the law in order to prove her innocence. After a dramatic but improbable series of events, the book has a good ending just in time for Christmas.