Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Date of publication: September 19th, 2023
Genre: Mystery, Christmas, Cozy Mystery, Contemporary
Series: A Year-Round Christmas Mystery
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen—Book 1
Hark the Herald Angels Sing—Book 3
Silent Night, Deadly Night—Book 4
Dying in a Winter Wonderland—Book 5
It’s beginning to look a lot like murder in the sixth installment of this charming cozy mystery series, perfect for fans of Donna Andrews and Jacqueline Frost.
It’s the beginning of December in Rudolph, New York, America’s Christmas Town, and business is brisk at Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, a gift and décor shop owned by Merry Wilkinson. The local amateur dramatic society is intensely preparing a special musical production of A Christmas Carol. But it’s not a happy set, as rivalries between cast and crew threaten the production.
Tensions come to a head when a member of the group is found dead shortly after a shopping excursion to Mrs. Claus’s Treasures. Was someone looking to cut out the competition? Everyone in the cast and crew is a potential suspect, including Aline, Merry’s mother, and Merry’s shop assistant Jackie O’Reilly, who was desperate for a starring role.
It could be curtains for Christmas—and for Merry—unless the killer can be ferreted out of the wings.
There are two types of people in the world: those who love picnics and those who hate them.Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas by Vicki Delany
Christmas is taken very seriously in Rudolph, New York. It has been named America’s Christmas Town, and the month of December is when tourism is at its peak—knowing that, the local theater group decides to put on a musical version of A Christmas Carol. But tensions are rampant throughout the cast, with rivalries threatening the production. Things get even more perilous when the actress playing Mrs. Crachit is murdered in Merry’s shop. With a short time until the musical debuts and needing to get her shop reopened, Merry must find out who the killer is and why. Can Merry do it? Or will the musical and Christmas be ruined?
Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas is the sixth book in The Year-Round Christmas Mystery series. While it is book six, you can read this as a stand-alone. But I suggest reading the first five books before picking this one up. I wish I did because I needed clarification about different characters. On the plus side, the author does not refer to the previous books, which was enjoyable. I was just left to muddle out the characters.
I loved the premise of this book. A town where Christmas is celebrated year-round is adorable. Plus, I loved the name Rudolph. The author also explored what it was like to live in a small town in Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas. The gossip and information grapevine was terrific and mostly on point. I also liked that Merry was friendly with most other people in town (except for the grumpy bookstore lady).
The main storyline of Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas centers around Merry, the murder of Paula Monahan (Mrs. Crachit), and Merry’s amateur investigation into the murder. It took a while for the murder storyline to get going. The author did an extensive job of laying down Paula’s backstory (and how unlikable she was). While the storyline was well-written and well-fleshed, the author could have trimmed down some aspects, like the journey to the neighboring town or Merry finding out that Ian was cheating on his wife. Neither had any bearing on the storyline (except to distract from who the killer was). But I do wonder if they will be part of the next book.
I liked Merry, and I could see myself being friends with her. She was grounded and an average person. Her reaction to her mother’s theatrics was funny (did I say that out loud was said a lot). She truly cared about the townspeople, even if some of them (Jackie) drove her up the wall. I also liked the way that she looked into Paula’s murder. She didn’t do it as a super sleuth but as an average person trying to figure it out. I loved seeing her thought process and the moment she realized who it was.
The secondary characters made the book. They were each fleshed out and had distinct personalities and quirks. They made the book so much more interesting to read. I also suspect that Noel (Merry’s father) is Santa.
The storyline of the musical did make me laugh. It was a realistic look at what happens when a group of passionate people get together. It also showcases how egos can ruin a show and how people must take constructive criticism. Aline, Merry’s mother, was the only one who stayed out of the pettiness, and that was because she was a famous opera singer. She dealt with that type of stuff for years. I loved that she put the verbal smackdown on the group towards the end. Someone should have done it sooner.
The mystery angle was terrific. I wasn’t a fan of it getting off to a slow start, but the author showcased all the suspects and the motives. I had a plethora of people to pick a suspect from. But I couldn’t. The author did an excellent job of throwing out red herrings. I was blindsided by who the killer was. It was the last person I would have even suspected. And that person’s motive was ridiculous.
The end of Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas was great. The author wrapped up the murder storyline in a spectacular way. I also liked how the murderer confessed (twice). It was like that person could have cared less about being in jail.
I would recommend Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas to anyone over 16. There is mild language, violence, and no sexual situations.
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books and Vicki Delany for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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