Murder Under the Mistletoe
A Mainely Murder Mystery #2
By Sherry Lynn
Author’s Website: sherrylynnbooks.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In a fresh new Maine-set holiday cozy, landscaper Kinsley Clark must root out a killer before she becomes the prime suspect.
Landscape artist and owner of SeaScapes, Kinsley Clark has been re-hired to decorate the town of Harborside for the upcoming holiday season and boat parade. Using the local elements found in Maine, Kinsley creates kissing balls—the town’s official mistletoe—to hang downtown and along the wharf. Kinsley is also responsible for Harborside’s official “lobster-stacked” Christmas tree, located beside the local marina, where the annual Harborside Boat Parade & Fireworks Display takes place.
When local alderman Chris Chesterfield—dressed up as the Grinch, right down to the green face paint—falls off the pier and into the icy Atlantic the night of the annual kickoff event, the town is in shock. But all eyes turn to Kinsley and her beautiful decorations when it becomes evident that Chris didn’t fall after all—and that he was looking to replace SeaScapes with a different decorating team. Kinsley, along with bestie, Becca, and Pete, the owner of the Blue Lobstah, must unearth the truth before Kinsley takes the fall. (from Goodreads)
This delightful Christmas cozy mystery in the beautiful setting of Harborside, Maine, is a canvas of brilliant word pictures of the Atlantic coastline with engaging, three-dimensional characters that I am happy to know. From the beginning, Kinsley welcomed me into Aunt Tilly’s elegant Salty Breeze Inn, where I enjoyed the sights and scents of the season.
Kinsley, a landscape artist, owns SeaScapes, a business she runs year-round from where she lives in a cottage behind the inn. She and several volunteers are preparing the kissing ball decorations used around town every Christmas season. Harborside hires her to decorate for Christmas and throughout the year for special events and seasonal changes. Becca, her childhood best friend, is enduring a slow season of home sales, so Kinsley hired her part time to help decorate the many homes and facilities awaiting their holiday finery.
Pete, owner of the Blue Lobstah pub, is also there to help make the town’s decorations. Kinsley would like to get to know him better, but there are mixed signals of whether he wants to know her better. Both Pete and Kinsley are very diligent when it comes to attending to and growing their respective businesses, so they both have a good reason to avoid the subject.
Mallory owns the only flower shop in town, and donated some of the greenery needed for the kissing balls. Her husband, Chris, is one of the town’s aldermen. Chris in not well liked, as he is abrasive with most people unless they can benefit him. He especially seems to dislike Kinsley. He wants the town to hire a different company for year-round decorating. He is ready to pick a fight with anyone over almost anything.
Chris dressed appropriately as the Grinch for the annual boat parade and fireworks event. At the Blue Lobstah, he was inebriated before he even arrived. He and another man got into a fight after Chris bumped into him, and Pete had to throw them both out. It wasn’t long before Raven, one of Pete’s bartenders, ran into the pub, screaming for a paramedic. Somebody had fallen into the icy water and needed help. Becca and Kinsley ran outside while two men tried to get him out from between the rocks he was lodged between. It was too late, however, to even try CPR. In the space of a few minutes, Mallory went from being a wife embarrassed by her husband’s behavior to being a widow.
Several people mentioned the animosity between Chris and Kinsley to the police, especially after the argument they had shortly before his death. She quickly became the person of interest, even though Rachel, the detective and a friend, knew she would never kill anyone. Rachel had to question Kinsley and verify her alibi to satisfy her boss. The police seemed to ignore others he argued with. Then Raven was arrested, and Kinsley and Becca had to ramp up their sleuthing efforts before their friend is charged with a murder she didn’t commit.
Several people looked like strong suspects, including Chris’s widow, Mallory, and his estranged brother, Cole. Cole had come to visit, staying at Salty Breeze Inn until Chris’s murder, then stayed with Mallory. Kinsley and Becca aren’t subtle when they question people about that evening, or some of the trouble Chris had caused for people, but they are improving.
Kyle, Kinsley’s brother, came home on leave from the Air Force and stationed in Germany. Before he arrived, Kinsley and Rachel were talking about Kinsley’s parents, who had died in an accident on a military base when she and Kyle were children. Rachel let slip that Kyle was looking into details of their parents’ deaths. Aunt Tilly had raised them and loves them as if they were her own, but something has felt “off” about what they were told about their accident.
Some of the secrets revealed about Chris, his wife, other people around town, and through plot twists added a web of potential motives and suspects. One clue seemed quite specific to the murder, and Kinsley and Becca were certain they could solve it and get Raven released. I was somewhat surprised to see who the real bad guy was as the person did have clear motives, but likewise was sad, for certain reasons. I am looking forward to the next mystery, and to see Kyle’s continuing research into the death of their parents. I highly recommend this cozy mystery!