#FestiveReads: Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost @crookedlanebks

Today I’m continuing my #festivereads feature by sharing my review of Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost, a lovely cosy Christmas murder mystery. I’ll tell you my thoughts on the book as soon as we’ve taken a look at what it’s all about.

TSOCThe Official Book Blurb

When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime—exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.

When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn’t watch out, she’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s jolly series debut.

Ha, ha, ha … or should that be Ho, ho, ho? This book really is one which will warm the cockles and fill you full of festive good cheer. not too much mind … It is a murder mystery too.

Think of every wonderful Christmas market you have ever been to or every festive Christmas shop you have crossed the threshold of, throw in the old reindeer, beautiful cooking and a delightfully cheerful and positive family and you have the makings of the Christmas Tree Farm in Mistletoe, Maine, where our protagonist, Holly White, grew up. She thought she had left for good but upon returning home following a split from her cheating fiance, Holly begins to realise that there really is no place like home. the familiarity, the warmth, in spite of the snow, and the generosity of her family and friends, is beyond compare. Nothing, not even the looming date of her cancelled wedding, can spoil her happiness at being home. Until, that is, local Historical Society matriarch Margaret Fenwick is murdered on their property, putting their who Christmas season at risk. Holly is determined to prove her family were not involved, but with someone seemingly determined to stop her, will her amateur investigations cost her her own life?

Part cosy crime caper, part festive frolics and part chick-lit come rom-com classic, this book really does have a little bit of something for everyone. Now I really and truly am not much of a one for Christmas festivities. I am the most bah-humbugian person about the actual day of anyone I know. More Satan than Santa. But I’m as likely to go an ooh-and ahh over a Christmas shop as the next Santa fanatic, if only because you cannot deny the appeal and the wonder of a beautifully designed festive display. And, I’ll admit, I like to go and find the noisiest and most annoying decorations to give to my young once nieces and nephews and now great nieces to annoy the heck out of their parents. A Great-Aunt has to have some fun at Christmas. So the very festive setting of Mistletoe, Maine and the Christmas Tree Farm with the Reindeer Games really did appeal to the slightly sadistic side of me. Sad but true. Who wouldn’t want to be able to ride in a sleigh with behind reindeer, relish in the snowy climate and drink hot chocolate while munching on a delectable cookie?

Throw in a good old fashioned, light hearted (well as much as these things can be) murder mystery, kind of Murder She Wrote-esque in its investigation, and a cast of characters who you cannot help but fall in love with and the scene is set for one heck of a wonderful festive read. I have to admit, I immediately took to Holly White. She is the kind fo character you want to lead you through a novel. Very warm and completely devoted to her family, she is also kind of stubborn and determined, unwilling to give in and stop investigating, despite someone threatening her life and the safety of the farm. She’s the kind of person you could easily see yourself warming to, forming an instant friendship, in spite of yourself.

And then we have Sheriff Evan Grey. The love interest. Or is he? For the most part it is all business between the pair, but there is no denying the chemistry which you can feel building in each chapter. He is sensible and cautious where Holly is more impetuous, but he is very kind and also very concerned for her welfare, much more so than his role as Sheriff would normally dictate. There are several chucklesome moments between the pair as well as some to make even the most cynical (i.e. me) go awww. You want them to get together, you can’t help yourself, but you want Holly to find her culprit first.

Despite what should be a dark subject – a woman’s murder – there are some really light moments in this book. Holly’s family and friends are a hoot. Take Cookie for example (and I’m not talking biscuits). She’s absolutely incorrigible. You’ll love her. I did. Even the most suspect of townsfolk have a certain appeal, but you will have to play armchair detective along with Holly if you want to unmask a killer, as with so many people, including Holly’s father, having motive to dislike the woman, which one of them hated her enough to commit murder?

The pace of this book is spot on for this kind of caper. You get the slower paced elements when Holly is with her family and the hold the breath moments when she is with Sheriff Grey facing the will-they-won’t-they scenarios. Then there are moments of great tension, particularly when it appears Holly is being watched and certainly when the killer is unmasked and makes a direct attempt on her life. Whether they manage to silence Holly for good … well you’ll have to read for yourself won’t you.

If you fancy read that is equal parts aww and argh then give this one a whirl. Not my typical read but I couldn’t get enough. Loved Holly, Loved Sheriff Grey, loved the book.

My thanks to publishers Crooked Lane Books for providing an advance copy of the book via Netgalley. It is available to purchase now from the following retailers:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Kobo | Waterstones

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