Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Christmas is Murder by C. S. Challinor. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
Christmas is Murder by C. S. Challinor
A Rex Graves Mystery
Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7387-1359-7 (0738713597)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-1359-5 (9780738713597)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $13.95
Review: C. S. Challinor introduces Scottish barrister Reginald (Rex) Graves, Q.C. who turns amateur sleuth to solve the murders of three guests staying at a Sussex hotel during a raging snow storm in Christmas is Murder.
Rex has trudged through an unexpected blizzard to reach the Swanmere Manor where he had hoped to relax, maybe play some tennis, but who is now using his racquets as snow shoes. The inn is owned by Dahlia Smithings, an old family friend, who converted her family home into a hotel following the death of her husband and her son, the latter killed in action in Iraq. Other guests had already checked in, including a WWII disabled veteran, a New York literary agent, a nosy divorcée and her friend, an antiques dealer and his partner, and a young couple, newlyweds. When the guests sit down to tea, Henry Lawdry, the veteran, takes a bite of an almond tart and slumps over, dead. The newly wedded Charley Perkins, a paramedic, examines him and determines that he didn't die of natural causes, but was poisoned. Soon thereafter, Miriam Greenbaum, the agent, is hit over the head with a candlestick and pushed down the basement stairs. Then Wanda Martyr, the divorcée, is smothered in her sleep. There doesn't seem to be any common relationship between the victims, yet with the guests snowbound, with no way for anyone to arrive or leave, it seems one of them must be a murderer. Unable to reach the police, Rex, with the help of Charley, uses his skills as an observant barrister to try to solve the mystery of these seemingly unrelated murders before another life is lost ... or before the snow melts and the murderer packs up and leaves.
Christmas is Murder is an engaging whodunit populated with an interesting and imaginative mix of characters and a very appealing and charming sleuth in Rex Graves. The story effortlessly combines elements of a classic country house mystery with an Agatha Christie-style denouement to great effect. With some of the guests concealing secret objectives for being present, this quick-reading mystery will keep readers guessing until the end.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Christmas is Murder and to Midnight Ink for providing a copy of the book for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.
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