Murder in Christmas River: Meg Muldoon

Pie shop owner, Cinnamon Peters, debuts in the first novel of ‘The Christmas Cozy Mystery’ series. Having a first names such as Cinnamon is not just simply unique, but very appropriate for a baker. Living in a town where it’s forever a holiday, Christmas River, provides her with an almost endless supply of customers. She has a wonderful grandfather to care for & her best friend, Kara, is nearby running her ornament store.

While busily preparing for the upcoming Gingerbread house competition, she receives a surprise visitor at her back door. A stay dog has appeared out of thin air looking neglected. Feeding him scraps & nicknamed him Huckleberry leads to a fond attachment to the dog. However, she’s more surprised to find a man on her back porch soon after Huck’s arrival. Daniel is a blast from her high school past & he, too, had become acquainted with the stray. As they rekindle their friendship, they ponder the dog which leads to Cinnamon following him into the woods late one night.

Much to her horror, Huckleberry leads her to a frozen body buried in the snowy woods behind the pie shop. Huck’s owner has been murdered. To make matters much worse, the victim was a hard-nosed, well-known judge for the upcoming Gingerbread House competition. He & Cinnamon never got along & honestly, he wasn’t well liked in the community either. But, no one deserved the death that he suffered.

As her week continues its downward spiral, she’d much rather focus on her re-budding romance. It’ll have to wait, though, because as more details of the judge’s death come to life, the Sheriff becomes more convinced that Cinnamon isn’t innocent. Despite her protests, he’s leaning towards the theory that Cinnamon killed the judge in retribution for his dislike of her gingerbread entries the last few years. It may sound unlikely, but that is his working motive theory.

With the busy tourist season in full swing, new love, & baking to be done, Cinnamon will have to add ‘clearing her name’ to her to-do list.

Meg Muldoon has penned a new twist on Christmas stories. As a lead, I liked Cinnamon. She’s a hard-working, heart-on-her-sleeve type of woman who never gives up. The supporting cast of characters is wonderfully down with just enough time spent on each for readers to draw a number of possible conclusions. Although with most cozy mysteries, it’s usually obvious who did what, there is enough mystery & finger-pointing to make the reader wonder a bit.

My only complaint would be the dopey sheriff. He was a little too Mayberry & seemed to be unimpressed with finding a frozen, dead man in his woods. Small town sheriffs would be a bit more horrified, I’d think. Regardless, I enjoyed the read. The length was a little bit longer than a usual ‘cozy’ which in this case was a good thing. I will be continuing to read about Cinnamon as there are quite a few finished books in the series so far. I give it a four star rating.

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