HAVE YOURSELF A DEADLY LITTLE CHRISTMAS by Vicki Delany
SERIES: A Year-Round Christmas Mystery #6
GENRE: Cozy Mystery (Clean)
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane Books
RELEASE DATE: September 19, 2023
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.
Other Books I’ve Reviewed In This Series
It’s no secret that Vicki Delany (or Eva Gates) is one of my fave cozy mystery writers. It’s also no secret that Christmas is my favorite holiday. Combine the two – plus a year-round Christmas town – and I’m on bookish cloud nine!
I somehow missed book 5, though I certainly didn’t intend to, but I was easily able to pick back up with Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas with no problems. The author does a fabulous job of giving first time (or it’s-been-a-minute) readers the basics of what they need to know without spoiling previous books, making this one a great place to start if you haven’t read this series yet. You’ll want to go back and read the others eventually, though, thanks to the engaging writing voice, clever plotting, and the lovable characters.
Merry is the ideal cozy mystery protagonist – she’s bright, she’s layered, she’s well-known throughout the town, she seems to have a knack for attracting murders and a curious mind for solving them. She also has a network of ‘informants’, a successful Christmas shop, a supportive best friend, a loving boyfriend, colorful parents, and an endearing St. Bernard called Mattie with a personality as big as his paws! In Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas, her role as a prominent town daughter is in the spotlight – between her mother being the star attraction in the town’s amateur theater performance and her dad being a dead ringer for Santa Claus – and I enjoyed getting to observe her in that role a bit more in depth.
Speaking of the theater, the town’s production of A Christmas Carol has more divas than Ebenezer Scrooge had coin in the bank. And what do you get when you throw a bunch of dramatic personalities into close contact and then turn up the pressure to deliver a stellar performance? A lot of ego clashes, creative differences, and … well… DRAMA. And the town of Rudolph’s little theater troupe is no exception, an aspect to the story that keeps tension high and motives plentiful. Delany skillfully tucks in several red herrings and a couple of surprising twists, all successfully designed to keep you guessing right along with Merry. I appreciated that even though Merry probably investigates more than she should, in the end when it counts, her first thought is to call the police. Her tentative camaraderie with (and mutual respect for) Detective Simmonds is also enjoyable to read – they really are more alike than I think they realize but different enough to make them a good team.
Bottom Line: In Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas, Vicki Delany takes readers back to the charming town of Rudolph with a plot fraught with drama – and not just at the theater! Clues abound but are not so obviously presented as to make it easy on Merry, Detective Simmonds, or we armchair readers sleuths either. The author’s talent at creating vivid characters & immersing us in the setting had me so absorbed in the story that I nearly threw my Kindle in fright when my husband walked in the front door without warning LOL! I very much enjoyed spending time with these characters again, except for Jackie who got on my last nerve (as she was intended to), and I look forward to my next visit on the pages of another Year-Round Christmas Mystery!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. Author of more than fifty books, she is currently writing the Tea by the Sea mysteries, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, the Year-Round Christmas mysteries, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates). Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
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