Book Review: Mistletoe and Murder

Mistletoe and Murder: A Christmas Suspense Collection contains ten novellas by different authors. Some are cozy mysteries: some are a bit darker. For some, Christmas just happens to be the time of year the story occurs and doesn’t really figure into the plot. Others depend on the Christmas setting more heavily. Most have Christian characters and undertones, some more than others.

Here’s just a brief description of the types of stories in the book:

Dead of Winter by Mary Alford: A deputy receives a mysterious text from her brother and then finds his cabin empty, his rifle missing, and blood on the door frame.

Death the Halls by Adam Blumer: A woman plans to introduce her boyfriend to the family at their cabin over Christmas. But someone has ransacked the cabin and takes the woman hostage.

Revenge Ignited by Liz Bradford: A Christmas thief is hitting houses in Knoxville. But the person who robs the home of an FBI agent on bereavement leave, taking care of her dead sister’s children, seems different from the rest.

The Marked Witness by Vicki Hinze: A security consultant hears from a woman and her daughter who had previously been placed in witness protection. They have reason to believe they’ve been discovered and are in danger.

Ghost of Christmas Past by Shaen Layle: An unstable man stalks his ex-wife and lures their deaf son away from her.

The Confession of John Doe by Loree Lough: An Amish Good Samaritan comes to the aid of a man thrown from his car and badly injured. When he returns to the hospital to visit the man, he is asked an even bigger favor: to hide the man from the criminals seeking his life.

Killing Christmas by Nancy Mehl: A long-dormant serial killer resurfaces and wants a pastor who writes a weekly column for the newspaper to write his story.

Deadly Drive by Cara Putnam: A woman’s twin brother has been shot, and she’s called to make a positive identification. When her plane arrives, she’s met in the airport by her brother’s roommate . . . only her brother didn’t have a roommate.

Dangerous Christmas by Lynn Shannon: A social worker narrowly escapes an attacker. When a policeman takes her home, her apartment has been broken into and someone has painted an ominous message on her wall. But why?

Yuletide Protector by Virginia Vaughan: A woman had told the police that her ex-boyfriend was stalking and threatening her. But he’s also a policeman, and the officers protected him instead of her. She changed her name and took precautions. But now someone with her same name is killed in a car bomb. Had that bomb been meant for her?

Most of these are stand-alone stories, but a few tie in to an author’s previous series. But enough was explained that I wasn’t left hanging.

I had only read Adam Blumer and Cara Putnam before. I’d heard of Loree Lough and Nancy Mehl. The other authors were completed new to me.

The stories were definitely suspenseful! I enjoyed some more than others. Since they were all set at Christmas, they all turned out well in the end.

In some cases, a novella doesn’t really provide enough time for two people to fall in love, especially if they were strangers beforehand. So some of the romances seemed a little rushed.

There was one spot where the theology was a little wonky, but most of the time the faith element was a clear and vital thread in the story.

Christmastime seems to lend itself to anthologies. But I’ve never read a collection of Christmas novellas with as many as ten stories. That added up to 938 pages—a little long, in my opinion, for a book that’s primarily going to be read in one month. I would have enjoyed it more if it had broken broken up into two books read on subsequent Christmases.

But I did enjoy it, for the most part. And I think anyone who likes mystery, suspense, crime drama, detective stories, and the like would love it.

(Sharing with Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent Thursday)

 

 

Book Review: Kill Order

In Adam Blumer‘s new novel, Kill Order, Landon Jeffers is an award-winning pianist diagnosed with brain cancer. After his doctors removed as much of the tumor as they could, they inserted an implant into his brain to continue to fight the remaining cancer.

But that’s not all they inserted.

Landon is recovering from surgery at his mother’s house when he starts having vivid partial memories of a couple of incidents in his childhood. As he tries to unravel what really happened, he also starts having strange dreams. In one, he stole an item from his mother’s neighbor. When he wakes up, he finds evidence that he really did commit the crime.

Then he wakes up one morning with blood on his clothes. As he turns himself in to the police, he learns he can’t be sure whom to trust. He has to find a way to escape whoever’s controlling him.

Adam keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Bits of humor are sprinkled throughout at just the right moments. Landon is not a Christian, but his mother and childhood friend both are, so there is some tension along those lines as well.

Adam had pledged to his readers that he will keep his novels clean. There are no swear words or sexual scenes here.

Adam also makes his books distinctively Christian. I’ve read too many books that are “Christian lite” or that are Christian in name only. I like to see Christian people doing Christian things in Christian fiction, seeking God’s will as they wrestle with issues. I loved how Adam’s characters developed spiritually.

Kill Order is a highly enjoyable, highly recommended book.

I interviewed Adam last week about what sparked the idea behind Kill Order, how he got started writing, and other topics here.

There are a few days left in the contest for to win a signed paperback copy of Kill Order here. Or you can find Adam’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. At the time of this writing, the Kindle version is only $2.99.

Here is a trailer for the book:

(Sharing with Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent)