Genre: Cozy Mystery
The tourist town of South Cove, California, is a lovely place to spend the holidays. But this year, shop owner Jill Gardner discovers there’s no place like home for homicide…
Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More is the liaison between South Cove's merchants and the mayor's office. Mayor Baylor has contracted with Ted Hendricks, director of a work program, to have several of the people in his program work with the various businesses. Although most of the other owners are against it, Jill talks them into it, even though she's not too sure about it herself. Once she meets the workers, though, several things start to come to light, and they're all about Ted, who is a most unsavory character. After a nasty first encounter with Jill (which is interrupted by Toby, the police officer who is also her part-time employee), Ted doesn't stop - he makes a not-so-nice late night call to Jill threatening her.
When she later finds him dead in his car in front of City Hall, it turns out that Ted was indeed a not-so-nice person. His reputation among the workers wasn't the best, and more than one person had a reason to kill him. While Jill is again counseled by her boyfriend, Detective Greg King, to leave the investigation alone, she is unwillingly drawn into it when someone leaves a "present" on her front doorstep.
Adding to this is her Aunt Jackie's idea of hosting a book drive and holiday party for the children of a nearby childcare facility - something their parents would not to be able to afford themselves; the fact that the mayor's wife Tina has decided to take over the town's holiday decorating from Darla, the person who has done it every year (and the fact that Tina has no experience and her ideas are less than welcome), Jill's decision to host her first Thanksgiving with many of her newfound friends in attendance, and meeting Greg's ex-wife Sherry (with disastrous results).
I really love this series. Ms. Cahoon has a way of drawing you into the story so that you want to read it straight through without stopping. Her characters are lively and fun to be around. The only drawback this time around is I think Jill has enough problems and drama in her life without adding the ex-wife to the mix, and it isn't a good idea. Sherry is unlikeable, and I, for one, don't want to have to spend time with her. Somehow I think Jill wouldn't want to have to spend time with her, either.
Aside from that, I look forward to the next book in the series. Highly recommended.