As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles
By Leslie Budewitz
Food Lovers’ Village Mystery #5
Midnight Ink, 2018
Erin is one smart cookie, but can she keep the holiday spirit—and herself—alive till Christmas?
In Jewel Bay, all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily has turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.
When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?
Includes delicious recipes!
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As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles is an excellent cozy mystery that goes on my favorites list – well written, charming small-town setting, character depth, and well-plotted mystery. I enjoyed this story very much and am glad to have discovered the writing of Leslie Budewitz.
Beginning with #5 in an established series can sometimes be difficult, but I quickly connected with the setting and characters. Jewel Bay, Montana is a delightful setting – a lakeside resort community on the road to Glacier National Park. Jewel Bay is a reflection of its citizens, a town that creatively fought back and reinvented itself when modern changes threatened to destroy it. The successful result is a food lovers’ village, and it is during their Christmas Decoration Day that we first meet many of the characters.
Erin, with dual roles as manager of the family mercantile and amateur detective, has a likeableness and realistic complexity to her. In fact, all of Erin’s family and friends have a genuineness to them. I sometimes get tired of the quirky characters that cozy mysteries are noted for, and welcomed the fresh realism of this story, as well as the author’s subtle humor.
I loved how family relationships provide the framework of the story and that Erin cares for her family. There’s plenty of drama, but it is relegated to the murder and the victim’s dysfunctional family. There’s also an emotional hook because, rather than being someone we love to hate, the victim was a sympathetic figure that I wanted to get to know in life rather than after death.
As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles is a delightful read with more depth than the average cozy. And Leslie Budewitz showed that it is possible to write a highly entertaining story without the use of profanity. I hope there are many more books in this series and want to read the previous four books.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction.
She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician, and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model, and avid bird-watcher.
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