Mistletoe and Murder ~ Carola Dunn

  • Title: Mistletoe and Murder
  • Author: Carola Dunn
  • Series: Daisy Dalrymple #11
  • Genre: Cozy mystery
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  In December 1923, the formidable Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple has decided that for Christmas the family will all gather at Brockdene in Cornwall at the invitation of Lord Westmoor.

Her daughter – Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher – is something less than pleased but yields to the demands of her mother, especially as she’ll be there just before the holidays working on another article for Town and Country about the estate itself.

But the family gathering quickly goes awry. Brockdene, it seems, is only occupied by the Norvilles – poor relations of Lord Westmoor – and Westmoor himself won’t be joining them.

So Daisy, her husband Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, and their family must spend their Christmas holiday trapped in an ancestral estate with a rich history of lore, ghost stories, rumors of hidden treasure and secret passageways with a family seething with resentments, grudges and a faintly scandalous history.

The veneer of civility that pervades the halls of Brockdene, however, begins to wear thin when long-held family secrets threaten to bubble over, and one of the Christmas guests if found savagely murdered.

With few clues as to who committed the murder and with too many motives as to why, it is once again up to Daisy to sort out the truth that lies beneath a generation of poisonous secrets.

Review:  This cozy English mystery is a ‘pure’ Daisy Dalrymple, cute and predictable (in a good way), one of the best in the series. The action takes place over Christmas in a crumbling mansion of an earl. He is Daisy’s distant relative and he invited Daisy (or rather her mother needled the invitation out of him) and her family for the holidays, but for Daisy, it is also a working vacation – she has an assignment to write an article about the mansion and its centuries-old history.

In accordance with the tradition of this series, the first few chapters describe the life of the mansion, familiarizing Daisy as well as the readers with the place’s shabby, decaying splendor, the quirky set of its denizens, and their convoluted family dynamics. Then a tragedy interrupts the jolly festivities, or should I say their pale approximations – one of the guests gets murdered.

Contrary to most other novels of the series, Daisy doesn’t discover the body. Her husband Alec, Detective Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, does, so he has to interrupt his own vacation for a spot of detection, but Daisy definitely helps her beloved.

For most of the tale, the readers are as baffled as the police about who the culprit of this drama is, although it’s largely a process of elimination. When we disregard all those who can’t be murderers, the only person left on the list of suspects is the guilty party, however unlikely.

The characters are divided into two clans. The series newcomers, the members of the family under suspicion, all have their distinct personalities. Some are depicted deeper than others, but on the whole, the group is believable. Like in any family, there are various currents swirling among them: affection and dissatisfaction, vulnerability and stupidity, shame, envy, and passion.

The recurring stars – Daisy, Alec, and his team of detectives – make this book a welcome addition to the series. Everyone has his or her accustomed role to play, a slot to fill, to the readers’ continuous delight. The children – Daisy’s stepdaughter Belinda, her friend, and her puppy – provide some humorous interludes.

Like all the books in this series, this charming story also had new words for me:

Etiolated – pale and limp, feeble looking, effete. Nice to know.
Canard – 1) a malicious rumor; 2) something to do with airplanes.

Recommended for all the fans of the series as well as the lovers of cozy mysteries.

Advertisements

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe ~ Charlaine Harris et al

  • Title: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
  • Author: Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Carrie Vaughn, Keri Arthur, Karen Chance, and more
  • Series: Sookie Stackhouse #8.1
  • Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi, Short stories
  • Format: Audio book
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewer: Valerie
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  The editors of “Many Bloody Returns” deliver the perfect howl-iday gift, with new tales from Patricia Briggs, Carrie Vaughn, and many more.

“New York Times” bestselling authors Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Keri Arthur, and Carrie Vaughn—along with eleven other masters of the genre—offer all-new stories on werewolves and the holidays, a fresh variation on the concept that worked so well with birthdays and vampires in “Many Bloody Returns.”

The holidays can bring out the beast in anyone. They are particularly hard for lycanthropes. Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner have harvested the scariest, funniest and saddest werewolf tales by an outstanding pack of authors, best read by the light of a full moon with a silver bullet close at hand.

Whether wolfing down a holiday feast (use your imagination) or craving some hair of the dog on New Year’s morning, the werewolves in these frighteningly original stories will surprise, delight, amuse, and scare the pants off readers who love a little wolfsbane with their mistletoe.

Contents:
Introduction by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner
Gift Wrap by Charlaine Harris
The Haire of the Beast by Donna Andrews
Lucy, at Christmastime by Simon R. Green
The Night Things Changed by Dana Cameron
The Werewolf before Christmas by Kat Richardson
Fresh Meat by Alan Gordon
Il est né by Carrie Vaughn
The Perfect Gift by Dana Stabenow
Christmas Past by Keri Arthur
SA by J.A. Konrath
The Star of David by Patricia Briggs
You’d Better Not Pyout by Nancy Pickard
Rogue Elements by Karen Chance
Milk and Cookies by Rob Thurman
Keeping Watch over His Flock by Toni L.P. Kelner

Review:  Everything about the way I approached Wolfsbane and Mistletoe was outside of my norm for anthologies. It is rare for me to read one cover to cover. Typically I will read a story here and there as it relates to a series that I am currently reading. In fact, I am sure my librarian thinks I am a bit of lunatic based on the number of times I have checked out, checked back in, and a couple months later checked out certain anthologies. (I follow a LOT of urban fantasy series, which seem to thrive on the between-book short stories published in anthologies).

I think what made the difference this time was that this particular anthology came available on audio book through the library. It got me thinking that it might be fun to just go ahead and listen to the entire volume, rather than just trying to hit a couple relevant stories. So began my journey through W&M.

As you would expect, some of the stories were better than others. Of course I enjoyed the familiarity of some of my favorite characters as they appeared in some of the shorts. I was delighted and surprised, however, to find my enjoyment in a couple of the tales for which I no experience with their authors. There were a couple of clunkers that I decided to fast forward through to the next story, but only two.

On the whole, the collection was a lot of fun, especially for fans for Urban Fantasy.