25 September 2019

Rudolph Day, September 2019

"Rudolph Day" is a way of keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year long. You can read a Christmas book, work on a Christmas craft project, listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie.

Silent Night, Deadly Night, Vicki Delany
Fourth in the year-round Christmas mystery series.

It's almost Thanksgiving and Merry Wilkinson is looking forward to her favorite holiday, even though she lives in the year-round Christmas town of Rudolph, NY, which reinvented itself after industry moved out. Two of her three siblings will be home as well. Right now she's helping her mother Aline, a former opera singer, prepare her home for the visit of five old college friends, anticipating a happy reunion. Unfortunately, it's less than happy: the women are always quarreling with each other, one is a wealthy show off, one a high-powered lawyer, one a dipsomaniac, one not well off financially, one always complaining even though she and her husband have a thriving lumber business. And one of them, Merry has discovered, is a shoplifter, after a pricy necklace vanishes from her gift shop, Mrs. Claus's Treasures. Surely they'll be able to endure the backbiting for a few days?

And then Karla, the complainer with a deadly peanut allergy, goes into anaphylactic shock at the Wilkinson dinner table. Her Epi-Pen, which she carries with her everywhere, has vanished. Her death, then, can only be deliberate.

Once again Merry is faced with a mystery. I found this one a little hard to get through, not because it was bad, but because Aline's friends are just so toxic. Even after Karla dies they snipe at each other continuously. Plus, Sue-Anne, Noel Wilkinson's bete noire in the mayor's office, is making noises about Noel's annual role as Santa Claus again. A new man in town, Wayne Fitzroy, is angling for the job and talking about changing the town's image to have a more "adult" Christmas.

The mystery is easy to puzzle out if you pick up on the clues, and there's a relationship change in the story that I found quite appealing. I'm sorry not to have met Merry's siblings, however, and really want to see Chris and/or Carole and/or Eve show up in a future story. And oh, how I would like to visit a place like Rudolph some day! (And what more appropriate to be reading about a town named Rudolph on Rudolph Day?)