Mail Order Murder

Ready for our next and final Christmas mystery? Here we go!

Mail Order Murder [also known as Mistletoe Murder] (Lucy Stone Mystery #1) by Leslie Meir

Thoughts before reading:

So a couple of years back I was at a library sale and they were doing a whole brown bag full of whatever for $1.00. I picked up all kinds of book, one of which was Lucy Stone #3 Trick or Treat Murder.

 

I read it and hated it, vowing to never read another one of the books again.

Then I picked up this book at the library

I loved the Lucy Stone MysteryCandy Canes of Christmas Past, as it was the perfect blend of a Christmas story, a family trying to get things together, and a mystery. It was fantastic and I absolutely adored it. It convinced me to try again.

Here we go again…

Plot Synopsis

Lucy Stone is working double time for Christmas. Besides all her normal homemaking duties, planning for Christmas, and family events-she works at night at the mail-order company, Country Cousins.

One night she is taking some air, and as she is walking hears a strange noise outside. When she goes to investigate it, she finds Sam Miller, owner of Country Cousins dead!

What?!

As she continues to work and prepare for Christmas, she decides to try her hand at sleuthing-even going as far as putting an ad in a newspaper to see who killed Sam.

Will this be a Christmas to remember? Or will it a Christmas in which the present is death?

Thoughts After Reading:

I hated it.

Ugh!

Lucy does like zero real investigating “falling into” the answer more than anything else. And the way it ends? Blah.

Hated it and I am not looking forward to reading the rest of the series. It was boring, bland, and I give it one star. Plus Lucy does a lot of stupid things in this book. Most definitely not a real detective or does any detective work.

The mystery moves so slooooooooooooowly. It really is just about Lucy’s holiday drama until the last few pages where everything is solved in a few moments.

For more Lucy Stone Mysteries, go to Candy Canes of Christmas Past

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Death by Desire

For more mystery reviews, go to Wuthering Heights

Candy Cane Murder

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Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #9.5) by Joanne Fluke

So Candy Cane Murder is actually a collection of three stories: Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery) by Joanne Fluke, The Dangers of Candy Canes (Jaine Austen Mystery) by Laura Levine, and Candy Canes of Christmas Past by Leslie Meir. I already reviewed Candy Canes of Christmas Past last December, as part of my countdown to Christmas. Today I will be looking at Fluke’s work.

It is Christmas time in Lake Eden, and Hannah is not very excited about it.

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You see, Hannah has agreed to be the Christmas elf for the County Children’s Home Christmas party. She will help Wayne Bergstrom, owner of Bergstom Department Store, hand out toys and candy canes to all the kids.

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The only problem? Her suit does not match the color of her hair and reveals more of her size than she would like it to. It appears that she has been snacking too many Christmas goodies.

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But when her niece tells her she looks great, she decides to move forward and get ready to make those kids happy.

Unfortunately, there are a few more curves in the road. Wayne has come down with a sore throat that is incredibly raspy, making him almost unrecognizable. They are afraid that the kids might become frightened, so Hannah makes up the dumbest story imaginable as to why Santa is hoarse. I don’t know what the author was thinking.

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That evening is the big Christmas party, and Hannah has a great time. She tastes some tantalizing tidbits and dances the night away with both her guys.

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Hannah grows tired from her partying, earlier work, and even earlier bakery hours. She decides to call it a night and is joined by both of her sisters. They head out to the car when they come across a candy cane. A candy cane like the ones they handed out earlier to the kids.

Very suspicious

On closer inspection, it turns out that there is a whole path of candy canes. Hannah had given them all to Wayne after they finished with the kids earlier. Hannah decides to follow the path and climb the snow bank to see what caused Wayne, a skinflint, to drop so many and not go back to pick them up?

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At the end of the candy cane path is Wayne, still in his Santa suit and dead.

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Soon they discover it is murder and set out to find the killer. Could it be his ex-wife, angry at him for divorcing her and giving her no alimony? Or maybe his current wife is tired of being married but doesn’t want a huge legal ordeal? One of his mangers or staff that he was always cruel to? Or one of the countless others who dislike him?

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Thoughts After Reading:

*Spoiler Alert*

I never would have read this if I had known it was an “in-between” novel. Let’s just say her in-between novels tend to, for lack of a better word, suck.

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I thought the plot was terrible, the potential suspects two-dimensional, and I had it all figured out immediately.

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I mean it was obvious that Melinda and Cory weren’t brother and sister, even more obvious than Bo Derek and Rob Lowe being lovers rather than mother and son in Tommy Boy.

And once again the love triangle continues to be in play even though it is more obvious than ever that Hannah and Norman are perfect for each other.

Stop this stupid love triangle!

Stop this stupid love triangle!

I also didn’t care for the recipes in this book. None were really interesting, except for the Regency Seed Cakes, of which I will be making in the future.

I really just felt that this book was a way for the author to capitalize on the holidays rather than develop the storyline. You may think me a Scrooge, but I really feel like she was just trying to get those Christmas dollars with this one.

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For more on Hannah Swenson mysteries, go to Key Lime Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more in-between novels, go to Candy for Christmas

For more reviews, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

Sand Tarts

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Ready for our next Christmas recipe!

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Thoughts Before Baking:

So as I was reading the short prequel, Candy Canes of Christmas Past (from Candy Cane Murder anthology), by Leslie Meier, the main character, Lucy, just went on and on about these cookies. At first I was a little off put by the name, I mean Sand Tart? Why would you name something you want people to eat after one of the most annoying substances on Earth? But hey, what is in a name? Right?

Anyways, reading about Lucy’s love for the cookie made me really, really want to try them myself.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 2 Beaten Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon of Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1.5 Cups of Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • Almonds
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • Mixture of 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Directions

  1. Cream the butter.
  2. Add sugar, egg yolks, milk, & vanilla
  3. Beat mixture until light
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, & salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to first mixture.
  6. Chill for two hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  8. Roll dough out very thin and cut with a star or circle cookie cutter.
  9. Place on a buttered baking sheet and put an almond on each cookie.
  10. Brush with unbeaten egg whites and sprinkle the mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
  11. Bake for 10 mins.

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SandTarts

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Thoughts After Baking:

So I didn’t follow the recipe one hundred percent. They asked for skinless almonds, but I couldn’t find any so I want with whole ones.

This recipe was A LOT of work, but the cookies were absolutely delicious and extremely enjoyable.

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I will warn you that you have to watch these cookies carefully. Because they are so thin, and you sprinkle cinnamon on them, they can get extremely dark when baked for 10 minutes. I’d give them 8 and then watch them like a hawk.

Otherwise I loved them and will gladly make them again.

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For more Christmas recipes, go to Misdemeanor Mushrooms

For more Cookie recipes, go to Gingerbread Men Cookies

For more desserts, go to Lemon Meringue Chiffon Cake

For more recipes, go to Hole in One

Candy Canes of Christmas Past

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Ready for the next Christmas mystery? Here you go!

CandyCanesofChristmasPast

Candy Canes of Christmas Past (Lucy Stone #0.5) by Leslie Meier

So a couple of years back I was at a library sale and they were doing a whole brown bag full of whatever for $1.00. I picked up all kinds of book, one of which was Lucy Stone #3 Trick or Treat Murder. 

I read it and hated it, vowing to never read another one of the books again.

Then I picked up this book at the library

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I didn’t have anything to read and was waiting for some people so I started reading it. I loved this mystery as it was the perfect blend of Christmas story, a family trying to get things together, and a mystery. It was perfect and I absolutely adored it.

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The story was compelling as the reader is caught up in trying to find out how the Stone family will make it through Christmas in a dilapidated house, with barely any money, and no oven for Christmas dinner!

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As Lucy is trying to settle in the new town and meet people, she befriends the town librarian and is told of her mother’s mysterious death.

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Lucy is on the case to investigate a mystery in retrospect, find her place in the town, and figure out what to do about Christmas and Christmas dinner.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So many authors try to blend a story of a small town community with a murder mystery and fail. This one gets it right.

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If I could buy a copy of this book on its own I would as I just loved it. It may become a new tradition for me to read every year around the holidays. You should check it out!

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For more Christmas Mysteries, go to Sugar Cookie Murder

For more stay at home moms who try a hand at investigating, go to The Barter

For more reviews, go to Sinister Sprinkles