Saturday, November 27, 2010
MISTLETOE AND MAYHEM by Kate Kingsbury
To like this book, you have to like a lot of murder with your Christmas mystery stories.
Set in Victorian England at the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was writing Sherlock Holmes, this story begins with the murder of a footman at the Pennyfoot Hotel.
The crime seems like an accident, but murder often comes to Pennyfoot at Christmas. There have been such adventures before.
From there, at least three other people are clearly murdered or their murders discovered. The one thing the crimes seem to have in common is that all the victims kissed or were kissed under the hotel’s kissing bough.
For some reason, none of the guests at the hotel just picks up and leaves, what I might do if I were staying at a hotel filled with murder.
In any case, the hotel’s owner Cecily Sinclair Baxter solves the crimes with the help of a clairvoyant friend.
As you might expect in a “Victorian” novel, the book is filled with dominating men and their wives or girlfriends who are struggling to be allowed to be themselves.
The book starts off slowly and picks up about one-third in.
For me, the most interesting parts of the story had to do with the people who work in the kitchen doing the ordinary work of the hotel. They, and a stray dog found by the stable assistant Sam, made the story for me.
Another unusual element is the strange recluse who stays in his room and writes notes about murder.
For me, this book, my second mystery novel of the Christmas season, was a typical cozy with more violence than you might ordinarily expect.
I purchased this book, along with several other Christmas novels I plan to read, from Mystery Guild.