Review: Candy Cane Murder

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CANDY CANE MURDER
JOANNE FLUKE, LAURA LEVINE & LESLIE MEIER
SERIES: Christmas specials for each author’s own series.
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Cozy-mystery

★★★☆

GOODREADS — BUY A COPY

Candy Cane Murder’Tis the season for trimming the tree, caroling, baking cookies, and curling up by the Yuletide waiting for Santa to drop down the chimney. But in this festive collection of holiday whodunits, murder is also paying a visit…
 
“CANDY CANE MURDER” by JOANNE FLUKE
When a trail of candy canes leads to a corpse outfitted in a Santa suit on a snowy bank, Hannah Swensen sets out to discover who killed Kris Kringle…
 
“THE DANGERS OF CANDY CANES” by LAURA LEVINE
A wealthy suburbanite takes a lethal tumble off his roof while installing a giant candy cane. Now it’s up to Jaine Austen to sift through a long list of scheming neighbors with dirty secrets in their stockings to expose a murderer… 
 
“CANDY CANES OF CHRISTMAS PAST” by LESLIE MEIER
Lucy Stone must learn the mystery of a glass candy cane that was found smashed to bits by a corpse’s body to unlock the doors of Christmas past—and find a killer who got away with murder.

 

tl;dr — Nothing that blew me away, but a good way to sample three pretty well-known and well-liked authors in this genre.

 

Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke

 

This is the first book I’ve read in the Hannah Swenson series and I thought it was okay. The characters were all a little flat, but I think that probably came of the author not wanting a holiday special to spoil the series as a whole for new readers like me.

I really liked the way Hannah and her sisters (and even the busy-body mother) interacted and worked together to solve the mystery. I don’t think I’ve seen a lot of books with three sisters like this.

On the downside, a week later I can’t really remember the killer’s motive and, for a book with a recipe practically every chapter, I didn’t really get the feeling of Hannah as a baker. This wasn’t one of those bakery books that makes me want to go out and buy cupcakes.

I didn’t dislike it, but I’m not sure I’d start the proper series.

 

The Dangers of Candy Canes by Laura Levine

 

This was such fun.

I know a lot of Goodreads reviewers hated Jaine but I found her really entertaining. True, she’s a bit catty and bratty but I thought this story had a lot of humour. I loved that her (nightmare of a) cat was called Prozac.

I don’t know if I’d want to read an entire novel (or a series) from Jaine’s POV, but I was really entertained by her in this short story.

 

Candy Canes of Christmas Past by Leslie Meier

 

Okay, this is the one that makes me eat my words. If you saw my review for the first Lucy Stone book (Mistletoe Murder), you’ll know that we… did not get on.

This one is set a good deal before the main series so it’s not concerned with spoilers and the like, which I thought was pretty smart.

I liked Lucy so much better. Both she and husband Bill still have pretty old-fashioned views about gender and parental roles but Lucy challenges them a lot more. Bill is even more hateful though — I wanted to stab him in the eye with a candy cane. Lucy is 6-months pregnant and trying to stop her toddler freezing to death in a crumbling house (literal snow in the crib) and getting by on the barest of food rations. She’s left everything behind to let Bill live his dream of being a (shit) carpenter — and he has the gall to act like he’s hard done by and she’s living the high-life. Actual steam came out of my ears at some points.

On the plus side after seeing Lucy suffering through life with Bill, I appreciate her more. I completely understand how she could become the cold-hearted bitch I hated in Mistletoe Murder.

I much prefer the mystery in this story too. I think because it was a decades-old cold case, I was less bothered by Lucy spending time on other things and not doing that much sleuthing. Although she still does more investigating than she ever did in the first book.

Of course, Bill still hates poor people — even though Lucy and he are broke in this one, and completely rely on the generosity of their neighbours — and Meier continues to paint poor people as either violent and angry or submissive victims in abusive relationships…

BUT! I actually prefer this short story to Mistletoe Murder and it would make me more inclined to continue the series. I’ve never understood the urge to rage-read books, but I think I could see it for this series.

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