Thursday, January 19, 2017

REVIEW: Candy Cane Murder

Candy Cane Murder
Authors: Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, Leslie Meier

The three stories in Candy Cane Murder add a little homicide to the holiday season. The 3 stories, by talented cozy mystery authors Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine and Leslie Meier, are all candy cane themed.

The first selection, Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke, features Hannah Swensen. Hannah's Christmas holiday starts out a bit rough. First she's stuffed into a unflattering elf costume to hand out candy and gifts to kids, then she discovers Santa Claus dead in the snow.  She's on the case again (to the consternation of her mother & her two love interests) to find out who killed local businessman Wayne Bergstrom before he even had a chance to take off his santa costume.

An enjoyable quick read, the novella was filled with the usual humor of the Hannah Swensen cozy series. The mystery was fast-paced and interesting, with a couple surprises I didn't see coming.

Laura Levine is up next with The Dangers of Candy Canes. The novella features Jaine Austen, a freelance writer who also dabbles in mysteries. A man fell to his death from his roof while decorating for Christmas. His house was recently re-shingled. The roofing company is being sued for wrongful death because the fall was caused by loose shingles. Jaine steps in to investigate at the request of the roofing company owner. She discovers that the fall was not an accident. Someone wanted Garth Janken dead.

There were some hilarious moments in The Dangers of Candy Canes. Two of my favorite moments were when Jaine gets stuck while trying to escape through a bathroom window and when she gets in a food fight with a moody teenager. The humor really made this story so much fun to read! Between guffaws, the mystery was entertaining as well. :) This is my first experience with a Jaine Austen story. I now want to read the cozy series! Who can resist a character with a pet cat named Prozac? I definitely want to read more!

And closing out this fun holiday cozy collection is Leslie Meier's Candy Canes of Christmas Past. Meier writes the Lucy Stone cozy series. Each novel is based on a holiday or special celebration. This novella, of course, is Christmas themed. Lucy and her husband Bill's home in Maine is filled with family for the holidays -- children and grandchildren all gathered around the fireplace. She finds herself reminiscing about a holiday years before in 1983 when she and her husband had just moved to Maine. That winter, Lucy had met Mrs. Tilley, a local librarian, and helped her solve the mystery of her mother's death.

Candy Canes of Christmas Past was a a sweet story. I liked it the best of the 3 tales in this book. I did find one little mistake though....the story supposedly occurred in 1983, but there is a reference to the Charles Stuart murder in Boston. Stuart shot his pregnant wife and then shot himself to cover up the murder. He blamed the crime on a non-existent black assailant. The only problem is the incident occurred in 1989, six years after the setting of this story. I can overlook a little editing boo-boo though. The story was endearing and an interesting read. I've read one of the Lucy Stone novels.....this story made me like the characters even more. I'm definitely going to read the rest of the series!

All 3 tales in this Christmas theme cozy novella collection were great! They are quick reads at 120 - 140 pages each. I highly recommend this story collection to anyone who likes cozy mysteries and wants to try out these 3 talented authors. It's easy to follow these stories even for those who have never read any of the books written by Fluke, Levine or Meier. Enjoyable stories and a great way to try out the Hannah Swensen, Jaine Austen and Lucy Stone cozy series!

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