Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am delighted to share my thoughts about
Stalking Around the Christmas Tree by Jacqueline Frost today!
Stalking Around the Christmas Tree (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery)
4th in Series
Setting – Maine
Crooked Lane Books (October 17, 2023)
Hardcover : 288 pages
ISBN-10 : 1639104518
ISBN-13 : 978-1639104512
Kindle ASIN : B0BSKZ1YNV
Tis the season to solve a murder—and innkeeper Holly White knows she’ll have to make her list and check it twice if she wants to catch the killer in the 4th Christmas Tree Farm mystery from bestselling author Jacqueline Frost.
For innkeeper Holly White, Christmas time in Mistletoe, Maine, is the ultimate holiday gift. Business at the Reindeer Games Inn is booming, her wedding to Sheriff Evan Gray is nearly here, and the annual parade is about to begin. The town is lucky to have another gift this year with the state’s ballet company staying for several performances of The Nutcracker. But disaster strikes when Tiffany, the lead ballerina, shows up dead on a float during the parade, the Rat King’s mask nearby. Holly will have to spruce up her sleuthing skills if she wants to catch the killer before Christmas—and her wedding day.
Immediately, Holly discovers that Tiffany had more than a few secrets. She finds out that the star of the show had a super fan that no one knows anything about. And the show’s understudy slips some other intriguing information Holly’s way: not only was Tiffany secretly seeing someone romantically, but there seems to be more than one rat in this company. When Holly discovers a secret passage leading to Tiffany’s dressing room, with footprints leading out; she wonders if this is evidence of a secret lover—or a stalking killer.
With an impending snowstorm and the ballet company on the way out of town, Holly must act quickly if she wants to find the person responsible for this terrible murder. Will she be able to save Christmas—or will her investigation turn cold like the weather?
There is no better place to be for Christmas than Mistletoe, Maine. The White family has a ton of events planned at the Reindeer Games Farm and Inn. The town has booked the state’s ballet company to perform The Nutcracker for the days leading up to Christmas Eve. There will also be a Christmas parade through town.
Holly White and Sheriff Evan Gray will be hosting a big event of their own. They are getting married on Christmas Eve and family and friends will be arriving soon to celebrate their nuptials.
Something not on the calendar was the Christmas Parade coming to an abrupt halt when they noticed the lead ballerina was unconscious on her float. Closer examination reveals the young woman is dead.
Four years and 4 murders! Will Holly, her family, and the residents of Mistletoe ever be able to celebrate Christmas without a killer coming to town?
The characters in this series truly feel like old friends. The White Family knows how to do the Christmas holiday perfectly for all their visitors. Holly’s new inn is full of ballerinas, and along with her other duties at the farm, she is making jewelry to sell and trying to get ready for her wedding just days away. Evan has a lot going on too with a murderer on the loose and his family coming into town for the wedding. Cookie is trying to find a bride for her goat, Theodore, and waiting to see next year’s goat calendar. She is a whirling dervish with fingers in all the happenings. Libby has her own scary drama to handle and for some reason, she is pushing Ray away. And Caroline has a new friend that is very interesting. I just love the way everyone always comes together to do anything for each other and have fun with each other too.
There are two mysteries in this story. The main one involves the death of lead ballerina, Tiffany Krieg, and the other involves Evan’s sister Libby. Libby tries to deal with hers on her own but finally shares with everyone when the threats start to become more public and dire. The murder mystery has Holly snooping to find answers so the murderer can be caught before her wedding. I had an inkling much earlier than Holly about a key element she was trying to solve but was still up in the air about the actual killer due to the several twists and turns Ms. Frost scattered expertly throughout the story. The exciting showdown answered all the questions and brought the mystery to a very satisfying conclusion.
I know this is a bit of a spoiler but while I really enjoyed the mysteries in this book my favorite part was Holly and Evan’s wedding. I have read quite a few cozy mysteries where the protagonist weds her prince charming but several lately include the barest of details or the book ends before the nuptials, and the next book begins after the wedding has taken place. I felt slighted, missing out on something that had been built over the course of the series so far. Well, Ms. Frost gave us details. Her descriptions put me right there on the scene. The vivid imagery was just grand. Even a blizzard couldn’t keep the guests away including us readers. A barn wedding, twinkle lights, horse-drawn sleighs, ice crystals, and “Sunlight fell into twilight, then darkness to the inky sky of Mistletoe.” I loved it!!
Stalking Around the Christmas Tree is a charming Christmas cozy and a terrific addition to this series. Clever mysteries, with engaging characters, set in a wonderful winter wonderland, it is sure to raise your holiday spirit. I have enjoyed every book in this series and recommend them highly. I am elated when a happy ending and a little Christmas magic are added to such well-written mysteries. You will find Stalking Around the Christmas Tree on my Best Reads List for 2023.
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About the Author
Jacqueline Frost is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Jacqueline is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sisters in Crime (SinC). Check out the author’s website for more books by this wonderful author.
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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.”