Holidays Can Be Murder
Review: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in New Mexico, but murder spoils the festivities for Charlie Parker in Holidays Can Be Murder, the 11th mystery in this series by Connie Shelton.
In the old Albuquerque Country Club neighborhood where Charlie and her husband Drake live, there is a tradition that residents decorate their homes and lawns to the max. During the holidays there are actually buses filled with people that tour the area. As with every Christmas season, Charlie has a demanding schedule: decorating, baking cookies for the neighborhood cookie exchange, shopping, and wrapping presents. And to top it off this year, Drake has invited his mother to spend the holidays with them. Charlie has only met Catherine once in the fourteen months she and Drake have been married. When Catherine arrives, Charlie is delighted to find her to be pleasant and congenial. But isn't the only mother-in-law making a visit to the neighborhood this year: Wilbur's mother, Paula, has dropped in – uninvited. Judy, Wilbur's wife, is in the early stage of her pregnancy and isn't all that well on the best of days. One evening after Christmas, Paula stayed home allowing Judy and Wilbur to dine with friends and play a game or two. When they came home, they found Paula sprawled out on the living room sofa – dead.
When the police learn that Judy had complained to some that her mother-in-law was a cruel woman who drank too much and probably was on drugs, a woman who continually brow beat her son and had done so throughout his life, and that she wished she were dead, they immediately see Judy as the prime suspect. Charlie knew this was Judy's anxieties talking and is positive she is not a murderer. Charlie remembers there had been a dark car that she had seen driving slowly past their houses for a few days, one for which she had written down the license plate number. Following up on this lead takes her to California and the home of Paula's ex-husband. He leads her to Paula's drug dealer who reveals that Paula had left town owing him money. As Charlie comes closer to finding the real murderer, her own life is put in peril.
Holidays Can Be Murder is a crisply written, briskly paced mystery, and befitting the season, filled with vibrant colorful characters. Though relatively short in length, the fully developed whodunit plot is quite entertaining. And if this holiday treat of a mystery weren't enough, two New Mexican Christmas recipes are included for readers to try at home. Consider Holidays Can Be Murder as a fun stocking stuffer, or to include in a holiday basket to give this season.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Holidays Can Be Murder.
Acknowledgment: Connie Shelton provided a copy of Holidays Can Be Murder for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Holidays Can Be Murder: Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Holidays Can Be Murder by Connie Shelton — A Charlie Parker Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 2009
List Price: $12.00