I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
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 shoo-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…
I tried to get ahold of this book for the Christmas season, but was way too late! But, since this author will be attending a conference that I will attend in August, I decided that I would read it anyway. I have previously read her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries, so I thought it would stand me in good stead to see what else she had to offer.
Imagine my surprise then, when I felt like I was re-read the Bookshop Mysteries! There are so many details in common. The protagonists are both young women who moved away from small communities and returned, both of them have set up speciality shops, both have best friends who run bake shops, both re-encounter a man they used to date, both have dogs that they barely have time for, both meet an attractive man who has newly moved to the community, both of them discover dead bodies, both have a member of the police force that they don’t get along with, and neither of these women trust the police to fully investigate the deaths. That’s a lot of overlap.
Don’t get me wrong--I finished the book. It was good enough to hold my attention to the end, although I was pretty sure of the destination. There were details that were delightful. This one is set in Rudolph, N.Y., billing itself as Christmastown USA. The main character is called Merry of course and her father (born on Dec. 25) is Noel and he is a dead ringer for Santa Claus. Merry’s dog, a young Saint Bernard, is called Matterhorn (though she calls him Mattie most often). Delany shows talent in naming her characters although I raised an eyebrow when the BFF in this one was named Vicky!
I realize that if you enjoy a particular pattern, you will enjoy a repeat of it. Witness myself and my obsessive reading of Ilona Andrews’ writing. Those novels too repeat a formula over and over and I shamelessly enjoy them. So, if you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries, I have absolutely no doubt that you will enjoy the Year-Round Christmas Mysteries and vice-versa.