Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen
A Year-Round Christmas Mystery #1
By Vicki Delany
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
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 how to decorate homes for the holidays. That’s why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoe-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…(Goodreads)
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen is a delightful start to the new Year-Round Christmas Mystery series. It is full of holiday cheer and atmosphere despite a couple of town folk Grinches, and I cannot wait to visit Christmas Town again.
Rudolph, New York, aka Christmas Town, has created a tourist niche for itself by celebrating the holiday year round. This is Merry Wilkinson’s first holiday season as a shop owner and is thus eligible to participate in the semiannual parade. However, things do not go as planned when her float does not take off. She finds it a bit disturbing when she learns that the tractor designated to pull her float was sabotaged. But, she has other things to think of during this busiest time of year, including a visiting journalist in town to write a magazine feature. Merry is shocked when, while out for their nightly walk in the park, her puppy Matterhorn (Mattie) leads her to the journalist Nigel Pearce’s body. Initially, the police are very interested in Merry’s best friend and bakery owner Vicky since it looks like a drug laced gingerbread cookie led to Nigel’s demise. When other strange acts of sabotage occur, Merry decides it cannot all be coincidence. She does her best to find out who is trying to ruin the town’s reputation and the spirit of Christmas before the damage done is permanent.
I admit it. I am a fan of holiday themed cozy mysteries, especially those set during the fall and holiday seasons. With a setting that could have been a cloyingly sweet cliché, Vicki Delany does a masterful job of creating an inviting fictional small town that is all about Christmas. I appreciate that even though all is picturesque, Delany does not shy away from the real worries that come with the tourist trade. Rudolph sounds like the perfect weekend destination, and I can just imagine all of the festive lights and decorations and beautiful music and sundries to tempt visitors. I wish I could purchase one of Alan’s, the local toymaker/woodworker, toy trains for a special child in my life. Even with murder and sabotage hanging over the town, it seems magical.
Merry makes for an interesting protagonist. She is likeable, with both hometown and big city smarts. Her parents are a hoot. With a name like Noel and a December 25th birthday, how could anyone but Merry’s father be the official town Santa? Her mother Aline is a retired opera diva who keeps the music alive throughout town. Vicky is unique (i.e. purple hair and tattoos) and adds some dimension to a character who could have been simply a caricature. My mouth waters as I think about all of the delicious goodies that come out of her bakery. Alan and Russ, Merry’s potential suitors, pleasantly contrast one another, but I do hope that Delany does not turn it into a full blown love triangle with them (At present, I am on team Alan). Finally, Mattie the Saint Bernard puppy may be my favorite character of all. He is too precious. Even though this is the first introduction of the characters, I already feel like I know them pretty well.
The mystery is paced well with plenty of twists to make me second guess the perpetrator’s identity until almost the very end. To me, this is a sign of a well written tale.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Christmas Town and look forward to many more trips to this enchanting town with all of its charming residents.