Thursday, November 30, 2017

Slay Bells Ring (A Caprice De Luca Mystery #7)

Author:  Karen Rose Smith
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496709776
Kensington Publishing
352 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
October 31, 2017

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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially now that Caprice De Luca has wrapped up her holiday-themed staging gig at a stunning historic home in downtown Kismet, Pennsylvania.  Behind all the red ribbon and glowing string lights, homeowners Chris and Sara Merriwether have it all.  But Chris, a Vietnam vet who plays Santa every year at the community park, has been displaying strange behavior after a recent trip to Washington, D.C.

The joy of the season vanishes entirely when Chris is found murdered on Santa Lane, leaving behind his loyal malamute and lots of unfinished business.  As Caprice uncovers hidden secrets in Santa's workshop, the pressure is on to catch the candy cane-wielding-culprit--before she's next on a killer's deadly wish list...

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Chris Merriwether and his wife Sara have hired Caprice to stage their home for a quick sale.  Chris, more so than Sara, wants to move into a condo, but she has her doubts although willing to go along with it.  Chris is a toymaker who plays Santa every year in the Christmas parade, and it is shortly after this that he is found dead, killed with a heavy wooden candy cane.

While at first no one can believe such a wonderful man was killed, it soon becomes apparent that there were enemies of his; and Caprice begins to wonder if any of those enemies were in his own family.  Even though the police are investigating the murder, because Chris was a friend of her father's she feels the need to do a little sleuthing herself.

So in between helping her sister Bella's Christmas program, staging a home for sale, and looking after her own pets and planning her sometime-future wedding, she noses around people who knew Chris to see if any of them can give her a clue as to why.  But if she's not careful, her questions might lead her to the wrong party - the killer...

I have to say that I have always enjoyed the Caprice De Luca mysteries; have read every one of them, and therefore I was looking forward to this one being just as wonderful.  Unfortunately, there were a few things that took away my enjoyment of this mystery.  One was that the mystery took a back seat to the dilemma Caprice feels in planning her wedding - she needs to find a dress, is waiting for an annulment, and she really, really loves Grant as we are reminded often.

Every time we were learning something about the murder, the next paragraph was about her family or Grant.  It was just overwhelming to the mystery.  I understand her strong family values, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But it was getting to the point that I got the idea her family would be the ones to decide on a wedding date, where she would honeymoon, and so forth; because she wouldn't think of making those decisions without their help.  I also have a hard time believing her family has no conflict between them at all.  It seemed just too perfect.

This was far too saccharine for me this time around.  Caprice loves Grant so much she can't stop telling us - ever.  She wants to marry him, but wants to wait until his annulment comes through.  Annulments can take up to three years.  So she's willing to wait up to another three years before she gets married or has sex?  (Not to mention he's been married before, so the fact he's willing to wait that long truly makes him a paragon among men - and as a side note, I don't read a lot of romances, so it's not that I want them to have sex; it just doesn't seem quite realistic).  How old will that make her when she finally has children?  Plus, she acts like she's eighteen in this book - gushing over Grant, her wedding gown, pearls, etc.; and then has a panic attack because Grant wants to move into a home big enough for both of them, not just her.  She just seemed so immature in her attitude toward Grant and her wedding.  Regrettably, it just didn't ring true to the real world, and it should have.    

What I am saying is that unless the main character is having a personal crisis, it shouldn't take away from the main issue - which in this case is a murder.  Aside from that, the writing was very good and Ms. Smith is a talented writer that I hope to hear more from in the future.

https://www.amazon.com/Slay-Bells-Ring-Caprice-Mystery/dp/1496709772/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2200217815

More on Karen Rose Smith's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/s/karen-rose-smith/

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