2020 is going to be the coziest holiday season yet with cozy mysteries from Ava Mallory, Summer Prescott, Jenna St. James, Laina Turner, Gretchen Allen, Joanna Campbell Slan, S. C. Merritt, Minnie Crockwell, Mona Marple, Rachael Stapleton and Loraine Hudson – along with their favourite holiday cookie recipe!
A fabulous collection of ‘long’ short stories – each one is almost a novella – with recipes at the end of each one. Cookies and Crime could be a fitting title for the whole collection but Caramelized Casualty has to be my favourite. I have listed each story with its resume followed by my own short review. And who better than to review stories about cookies than the cookie monster herself – Cookiebiscuit!
Many thanks to @damppebbles for inviting me to be part of #damppebblesblogtours
Summer Prescott – Hang Out the Stalkings
Someone is stealing Nancy’s cookies…will they steal her holiday spirit too?
I loved this story! But then it’s about a dog – Dolly the Poodle (she’s fine so don’t worry) – who gets stolen from the doggy grooming parlour while having a shampoo and clip. It’s sweet and heart-warming and I confess I shed a tear or three at the end. Poor Nancy. Who knew what rivalry went on in suburban dog parlours. There’s a mystery a-paw…
Laina Turner – Cookies and Crime
What is supposed to be a joy-filled awards ceremony for the Romero Boy Scouts turns out to be anything but when Jean Sartor, Scout co-leader, drops dead on stage. Trixie lands herself on the suspect list since she baked Christmas cookies for the ceremony. She knows she didn’t poison Jean, but who did?
A simple tale of murder, greed, lust and secrets. But who is guilty? More than one I suspect and Trixie is determined to find out – even though she is a suspect and is putting her own life in danger.
Rachael Stapleton – Christmas, Corpses & The Gingerbread Flip Flop
When house flippers Jack Young and Juniper Palmer purchase a colourful Queen Anne home, Juniper assumes the exterior gingerbread trim will be the most outlandish thing to see. That is until a prominent wine merchant dressed as Santa is murdered and Jack’s mother is caught on the naughty list.
I loved the supernatural element in this. Juniper can see ghosts. The type that come back to tell you about unfinished business. You usually then find out it’s a trick or even worse, aliens, but Juniper can really see them. I love a good haunting. It made the story for me.
Jenna St. James – Christmas Cookie Caper
When Ivy O’Brien learns her mother has been injured at the annual Couples Christmas Cookie Contest, she runs to the rescue. Looks like she needs to fill in for her mother and hunky policeman Anthony Romano has to help bake the cookie and question the suspects. Between dough-making disasters, nips of peppermint Schnapps, and rolling pin thefts, the pair slowly whittle down their suspect list.
Hilarious! The characters like Christmas Carol are so ridiculous but they made me smile. And Mr Ashcroft lining up the snowmen and worrying that one of his precious collection of rolling pins is missing. There’s even a ‘love’ interest in this one or at least the beginnings of one between Ivy and Romano. I have to admit this one was amongst my favourites.
S. C. Merritt – Caramelized Casualty
With the annual holiday unveiling of a giant gingerbread village quickly approaching, Kate Kennedy’s stress level is sky high. When one of the event’s diva celebrity chefs turns up dead, Kate decides she has no choice but to team up with the town’s newest detective if she’s going to pull off the big event. Can she expose the killer in time to save the event?
Love this. Those celebrity chefs are so up themselves. I hope they are not all like this in real life. A touch of dark humour (well more than a touch) and budding romance in this one. The murder puts Kate in a very sticky situation and her career depends on solving this viscous crime. Whoever thought you could be caramelized to death? Another favourite.
Gretchen Allen – Lost Claus
Charlotte Moss is one tough cookie, but her new job as Mrs. Claus isn’t what she expected. When Santa goes missing and a body is found, the most wonderful time of the year looks bleak.
Set in a shopping mall with three Santas, each with his own Mrs Claus and accompanying Elf. Who knew competition for the annual bonus could be so fierce? Olive wants to partner flirty Daniel but new girl Charlotte has taken her position, ex-Mrs Claus Erin has been murdered, Santa’s little helper Owen is acting very suspiciously and Kris (is that Kris Kringle?) has gone missing. Who dunnit? Charlotte is determined to find out.
Mona Marple – The Santa Run is Murderous Fun
Emily Monk’s run out of excuses not to take part in the annual Santa run, but the festivities are threatened when the long-running Santa Run champ is found dead the day before the race.
With a killer to be caught, and a Christmas dinner to be bought, Emily needs to think fast if she’s going to solve this case before Santa comes.
When the author is called Ms Marple, there has to be a mystery to solve. This one is based in England and it shows instantly in the writing style. I don’t know if they have Santa Runs in the US (I expect they do) but there’s always one in our local park here in Cheltenham. It’s big here – like Santa himself. Time for Emily, with the help of Uncle Cornelius, to solve the murder.
Loraine J. Hudson – Holly Jolly Misdeed
First, it’s a thieving Santa. Next, it’s a prowler that threatens Jenny’s peace. It all seems to revolve around a box of cookies. Why? And what’s next?
No bodies this time just a mystery over a box of cookies. Actually I loved this one. Poor Jenny stumbles upon an intruder searching through the gifts under the Christmas tree. She hits them over the head with a hockey stick and six year old daughter Ashley thinks mum has killed Santa. Once the perp is locked up Jenny spots a prowler in the garden. What could they be after and are the crimes connected? We’ll have to find out.
Minnie Crockwell – Death by Cookie
Sallie Chilcoat decides to get into the holiday spirit by baking up a batch of cookies for her lakeside condominium neighbours only to have one of them turn up dead – with the remains of her cookies! Did Sallie kill her neighbour with her vegan cookies?
Sallie doesn’t really do ‘neighbourliness’. She keeps herself to herself. But being Christmas, she decides to make some vegan cookies and leave them at her neighbours’ doors. Until she discovers an ant infestation and runs round looking to see if the cookies are still in the hallway. But one door is open and when she goes in she finds more than ants.
Ava Mallory – Christmas Cookie Catastrophe
When Consuelo “Cookie” Alvarez inherits a bakery from her aunt Birdie, she doesn’t expect to take her late aunt’s place in the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off. Now she has two weeks to perfect the super-secret recipe, but there are major obstacles in her way: she can’t bake, the recipe is missing, and her competitors are a who’s who of shady characters.
This story is about the theft of a recipe and no-one gets murdered. It’s a nice little yarn with a cast of unusual characters. A cozy Christmas tale with just a hint of possible romance.
Joanna Campbell Slan – How the Cookie Crumbles
Cara Mia Delgatto never met her maternal grandmother. But Nonie Josephina reaches out from the grave with a message for Cara: I left behind a treasure! Can Cara Mia find it before Santa comes to town?
A tale of four generations from Great-Granddad Poppy down to 20 year old Tommy, who everyone seems to want to hug, and their friends and family. Another cozy ‘mystery’ with a lovely, happy ending. No murders, no poisoned cookies, just a lot of love.
US Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08K97KLJ9
UK Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08K97KLJ9