There really are no words to express how much I miss Joyce. Her picture continues to pop up all over the blogosphere with her wonderful smile. Each time I see it I stop and think how blessed I was to call her my friend. Last weekend I had the pleasure of escaping into the pages of Murder Fir Christmas. I am so thrilled that her voice will live on and touch us forever with stories like this.
Murder Fir Christmas
by Joyce and Jim Lavene
Murder Fir Christmas
(Christmas Tree Valley Mysteries)
Setting – Tennessee
Print Length: 208 pages
Publisher: J. Lavene (December 1, 2015)
Down the mountain from Sweet Pepper, Tennessee is Christmas Tree Valley, a place filled with hundreds of Christmas tree farms where generations of growers have made people’s lives brighter. Yet even here in this quiet, postcard-perfect corner of the world, darkness and murder can still stalk the night.
Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle has always had a special gift with wild animals. It was one of the reasons she decided to train with the wildlife agency. She’s spent the last ten years in Alabama working, but her mother needs her home and she’s back despite all the bad parts of her life she hoped to leave behind.
Her first day home begins with a fire on the island in Sweet Pepper Lake and the death of Harvey Shelton, the wildlife agent she’s supposed to replace. Bonnie manages to rescue dozens of animals from the fire – including a wolf pup that was shot with the same bullet that killed Harvey.
Now she’s hot on the trail of Harvey’s killer and trying to reintegrate the wolf back into the wild even though he seems to want to stay with her. Yet old memories persist in the small community where she grew up, and the killer now seems to believe that she has what he killed Harvey for. All she has to do is figure out what that is before it’s too late.
Christmas Recipes included!
I am a huge fan of the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries by J.J. Cook, aka Joyce and Jim Lavene, so when I heard they were spinning off another series set nearby in Christmas Tree Valley I was over the moon!
We first met Bonnie Tuttle in the Biscuit Bowl Mystery Series. Now the Federal Wildlife Agent comes home to the valley after being away in Alabama for years. Her mother is starting to show signs of Alzheimers and her brother has taken a new job in Germany. Bonnie is taking Harvey Shelton’s place as wildlife agent and will also be running the family’s Christmas tree farm. Maybe everyone has forgotten why she left or she will be too busy to care if they do remember.
She is thrust right into her new job when there is a fire and several animals need to be rescued. She heads to the scene with Harvey. Shorty after they arrive gunshots ring out and Harvey is hit and killed. A wolf pup is also shot and Bonnie finds herself with a new friend as she takes care of him. Who would want to kill Harvey? Bonnie tries to see the forest through the trees to catch the killer before she or anyone else is fired upon.
What an amazing story!
All our favorite characters from Sweet Pepper welcome Bonnie to the area. Fire Chief, Stella Griffin, the ghost of former Fire Chief Eric Gamlyn and Police Chief Don Rogers throw out the welcome mat and then chaos erupts as the fire call comes in and the mayhem continues. These characters are already near and dear to my heart. They are wonderfully written and spring right from the pages.
Winter in Christmas Tree Valley is dangerous because the road can snow shut or be covered with ice or both. The road was closed before Bonnie could even get home the first day. The Lavene’s paint pictures of the scenery so clear with their words. The blustery wind, the frigid cold, I was almost shivering myself. They also brought the valley to life. I could envision the tree farms, Harvey’s cabin office, and all the beautiful sites as we traveled down the hill from Sweet Pepper.
The mystery itself played out in a way I never suspected. Such good twists and turns. I can’t say more because I am afraid I will say too much.
An awesome cozy story! Mystery with just a flake of folklore and a touch of paranormal and a little romance too. These authors have imaginations that are truly off the charts. They have blended these series together is a wondrous way yet given them the footings to stand on their own. I really like Bonnie and I truly hope Jim and the family keep this series going. I want to visit this area as often as possible.
About The Authors –
Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”