04 December 2016

Homicide in a Holiday Town

We Wish You a Murderous Christmas, Vicki Delaney
Merry Wilkinson is the proprietor of Mrs. Claus' Treasures, a specialty gift shop in the small New York town of Rudolph, which, after languishing for years, is now a successful year-round Christmas town, with everything themed to that holiday. As the story opens, Merry and her best friend Vicky, who's a bit sweet on the handsome new chef at the Yuletide Inn, have finished their meal and run into Merry's parents and the Olsens, owners of the Inn, just as Jack Olsen suffers a heart attack. The next thing everyone knows, Gord Olsen, Jack's bullying son from his first marriage, has come into town and is making plans to sell the Inn to a cheap motel chain and the adjacent gardens to a discount superstore chain. Everyone in the town is opposed to the idea, none more than Merry's dad Noel, one of the townspeople that came up with the Christmas town idea. So when Gord is murdered after an argument with Noel on the very night he doesn't have an alibi, he's the natural suspect. And of course Merry, who proved herself an able sleuth in her first outing, won't stop until she clears her dad.

I'm a Christmas freak, so I love the idea of a town dedicated to Christmas year 'round (heck, I'd live there myself). I like Merry, but I feel she's a bit hard on her assistant Jackie in this outing, although I understand that she's freaked out by her dad being under suspicion. (She does better by her dog in this book, however.) As usual in a small town, Noel has his opponents, including the annoying Sue-Anne Morrow on the town council (apparently related to Sue Ann Nivens from The Mary Tyler Moore Show), and the envious neighboring town of Muddle Harbor, a fading relic just as Rudolph would have been, also throws its unscrupulous oar into the water. Since there was no love lost between Gord and anyone else, except for his awful wife Irene, there is no lack of suspects.

It's not a perfect series. Merry has two handsome guys fighting for her attention. Yeah, as if. The police office investigating the case is correct: Merry's just sticking her nose in too much (but then the story ends here!). And odious Irene kind of just vanishes near the end of the book. Nevertheless it's a cute little series revolving around a neat (for me) concept. I'd love to see Merry's oft-mentioned brother Chris appear in the next story!

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