Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen (A Year-Round Christmas Mystery #1)

Author:  Vicki Delany
Genre:  Mystery, Christmas

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780425280805
Berkley Prime Crime
294 Pages
$7.99; $7.99 Amazon
November 3, 2015

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In Rudolph, New York, it's Christmastime all year long.  But this December, while the snow-lined streets seem merry and bright, a murder is about to ruin everyone's holiday cheer...

As the owner of Mrs. Claus's Treasures, Merry Wilkinson knows howto decorate homes for the holidays.  That's why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoo-in for best in show.  But when the tractor pulling Merry's float is sabotaged, she has to face facts:  there's a Scrooge in Christmas Town.

Merry isn't ready to point fingers, especially with a journalist in town writing a puff piece about Rudolph's Christmas spirit.  But when she stumbles upon the reporter's body on a late-night dog walk and police suspect he was poisoned - by a gingerbread cookie crafted by her best friend, Vicky - Merry will have to put down the jingle bells and figure out who's really been grinching about town, before Vicky ends up on Santa's naughty list...

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Merry Wilkinson owns a Christmas-themed gift shop and lives in Rudolph, New York, also known as Christmas Town.  It's getting close to Christmas itself, and she's got her float ready for the Christmas parade.  She's also convinced she's going to win this year...at least until mechanical difficulties disqualify her from the parade - it seems by the time she finally was able to get her float up and running, it was after Santa Claus's float, and that's a big no-no here; so, disqualification.  Her best friend Vicky, who owns a bakery, won - which isn't a surprise, since she usually wins anyway.

Also there this year is a reporter, Nigel Pearce, who works for World Journey magazine is there to do a story on their little town.  While he's in Merry's shop, it seemed he's more interested in her employee Jackie than he is in the shop itself - although he hides it with a series of shots of Jackie around the merchandise.  Later that evening there's a party in which Vicky bakes a special set of gingerbread men for Mr. Pearce.  And later on after that,  Merry is walking her puppy in the park and finds his body.

When it's discovered that he's been poisoned, and the culprit seems to be a gingerbread cookie, the natural suspect is Vicky.  But Merry is convinced her friend isn't guilty, and knows there has to be a better explanation, and another guilty party.  But can she - and the police - figure it out before Vicky's finally cooked herself and behind bars?

A series centered around Christmas?  What could be better?  Well, this book apparently.  I should have known in the beginning when her float was disqualified for coming after Santa.  Really?  It was minor at best, and I doubt if the visitors to their town would have been horrified by that fact.  Yes, traditionally Santa is last, but honestly, disqualified?

I felt that there were so many things that didn't make sense to me - more than did.  For one, children don't take singing lessons - their voices will change by the time they're teens, so there's no point in it.  She also surrounds herself with unlikable people:  Jackie, who's completely narcissistic - thinking only of herself and what she can get out of men - and Vicky, who's a gloating nag.  She gloats when she wins a trophy, (a true friend wouldn't, she'd go to bat and insist the float not be disqualified), then nags her about what she eats.  She berates Merry for eating poached eggs, hashbrowns, sausage and toast for breakfast!  Gasp!  She'll clog her arteries with fried eggs - except poached eggs aren't fried.  They're poached.  Cooked in water, no grease added.  Hardly artery-clogging food.  Then practically the next sentencee Vicky says as how she's making pastries and bread pudding with maple syrup - which everyone knows is soooo good for you and low-fat, right?  I think she just disdains any food she doesn't serve at her bakery, but that's just my opinion.  (Besides, doesn't Vicky, as the best friend, know what Merry eats?  And still berates her?)

Merry is also a bit of a hypocrite.  She mentions how she and her family believe that gifts are for children only, yet she sells gifts for adults to give to other adults.  Uh-huh.  Shouldn't she only be carrying toys, if that's her belief?  (For the record, gift giving to others doesn't stop at eighteen.  It's a way to show you care about another human, regardless the age).  Practice what you preach and all that.

Not to mention she acts like she's a teenager herself - fending off two would-be suitors without really saying so.  How old is she, anyway?  I certainly hope this series isn't going to turn into a love triangle.  As I've said before, I absolutely abhor them.  Put it this way:  If it were a man who was seeing two women, you'd probably think he was a dirtbag of sorts.  Yet for some odd reason, it seems to be perfectly fine when a woman strings along two men.  Strange.  She also never says why she does or doesn't want to date anyone.  I never got the feeling there was any attraction to either one of them (maybe on their part, but definitely not on hers).  No connection of any kind.

And at the end, I felt that the reason the murderer did everything was rather convoluted.  It didn't really make any sense to me, since it wasn't really connected in any way; and Merry didn't really do any investigating. (See Goodreads for hidden spoiler).  As it were, I felt the book wasn't about a murder, it was about trying to figure out who was sabotaging everything.; and it all just rather fell into her lap.  I usually try to give a pass on the first in a new series, and in this instance I am hoping that it will improve.

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