Initially I sought this one out because I needed a holiday-themed novel in December, and this one fit the bill because it looked easy, cute, and was a cheap price. I never figured I'd enjoy this one as much as I ended up doing - usually with cozies my rating is an average 3 star slap and decent impression. Now that I've read this, I not only loved it but want to continue more of the series.
On that note, when I went to read about the author, I found out that the person who wrote this was a mother who died, and this book was the result of her daughter who wanted to revise the book and see it published in her mother's memory.
It's a nice touch then that this story focuses on an unusual mother/daughter relationship. Cozies often feature pairs of siblings or other relatives, but they don't usually have such an unusual combination that comes across realistic, workable, and downright funny. Fans of the series such as Ophelia and Abby will know what I mean - those pairings were enjoyable in their own ways, but they were a little too purified to come off as true.
Here there's argument, hiding, sarcasm, humor, non-perfection but still close bonding of mother/daughter. Fun stuff. Not only does the plot grow to be more intriguing and intricate, but the mother/daughter bond connects strongly and flourishes in the end into its own new story.
Besides the pair of daughter Chloe and mother Amanda, there's hilarious side characters who work their charms too, such as the local town bimbo, shifty committees, and local crime boss who enjoys flirting with mommy dearest. Be still my heart!
The mystery is amusing (someone stabbed in a santa costume on Christmas shouldn't be amusing, but I'm twisted this way and the author helped it be so.....), but it's more than just funny. It's genuinely good. The pair investigates, questions, hypothesizes, ponders, chases red herrings, holds their own theories, shares other theories, and uncovers the culprit cleverly in the end. It's not an easy guess, there are misdirections, new leads, fun mystery injections, plausible villains to suspect, and no clear arrows pointing an obvious direction. There's not much more you can ask for in a mystery.
Obviously I recommend this for mystery and cozy fans, but please don't wait for the holidays only - this is a mystery that works all year round and I can't wait to continue the series, which the daughter is continuing in her mother's memory and name. The Kindle price is 2.99, which is totally worth it.
"Nothing like the holidays and homicide to bring people together."