Thursday, December 15, 2016

Merry Christmas Becomes Merry Murder When Santa Claus is Murdered...

...a flash of red caught her eye outside the window. She tenderly pushed a branch from the tree aside, and craned her neck to look out the big picture window that lent a nice view over Oxford Street. Great Uncle Wilbur was making his way up the sidewalk, Harriet danced around the old fellow's feet. Wilbur paused halfway to turn and wave merrily at the wide eyes, slack jawed children who were peering out their windows amazed to see Santa strolling along Fiona Quinn's sidewalk. They waved back, feverishly.
Lord love him, Wilbur never missed an opportunity to make children smile or to promote the noble cause of Santa.
Fiona had to giggle to herself. From now on the children in the neighborhood would see her in a different light--she knew Santa Claus personally! Maybe they'd think twice about soaping her windows on Halloween--one could only hope.

Wilbur was grandma Evelyn's older brother. He was ninety years young, had never been married, retired from the steel mill many years ago and lived a block or so away on Guyland Street. He absolutely loved to play the role of Santa every year at Macy's Department Store in downtown Pittsburgh, until it closed. He was sad, but he had been such a popular Santa that the management at the Robinson Mall near Pittsburgh airport scooped him up.
"It just isn't the same," Uncle Wilbur once told her. "Bit I guess I should be thankful that I'm still able to do what I love."
...Anyways, I wanted to pop in to find out when you're expecting your parents."
...the closer she got, it was looking more and more like the kennels belonged to her parents. How was she going to fit the luggage, the kennels, and her parents in her tiny car? Worse, how was the going to accommodate five more dogs or whatever was inside the travel kennels? Yikes! Christmas was becoming a little more complicated than she had planned--way more complicated.
..."How's my favorite kindergarten teacher? Those kids treating you good?" Her father asked, giving her one last squeeze before releasing. 
"I'm good. The kids are a little over the top right now with Christmas right around the corner. Let's just say I'm ready for the holiday break...three more days of class, but who's counting?"
"Fiona," her mother began. "You're so painfully thin. Aren't you eating properly?"

Merry Murder:
A Fiona Quinn Mystery

By. C. S. McDonald

This is the second Fiona Quinn Mystery from C. S. McDonald who brought her new series out with Murder on Pointe. In this novel we learn much more about her and her personal life, meeting her family during the holidays as well as her "young man," Nathan Landry. 

All the family is coming to Fiona's home for Christmas! Which would have been much better if her mother had not insisted that they bring all five of their dogs--with Harriett, already a resident... Last winter I had six kittens/cats in my house so I can empathize as to how Fiona was feeling... Talk about animals under your feet!

Her father was still carrying in the luggage and kennels, when he asked Fiona where her mother was... Nancy had already headed up to the attic, where, as you may remember, her mother still resided--in spirit form. Nancy had immediately started taking off the furniture covers and cleaning the room and then sat down to be close to her mother... Of course, Fiona was used to having her grandmother living with her, and really appreciated her fixing her coffee each morning and doing other little things around their home... It never seemed strange to any of them that her ghost was still with the family...

A cute little story about Nancy's dogs was that four of them were named after the Beatles, but the other, Keith, was named after a former special friend...

When Keith just happened to be left outside when Garrett went out to pick up the newspaper, who should appear at the door to bring Keith in? Why, of course, Keith Schlemmer himself! With Fiona's parents each having their own personal feelings about that visit! And when they learned that Keith Schlemmer lived in town, it soon had both parents not speaking--even by breakfast. Luckily Fiona's brother came!

Breakfast with her parents had been as icy as December should be. The breakfast table was null and void of conversation. Luckily, the air instantly cleared upon the arrival of her younger brother, laughing and joking. The dog's vanishing act, and Keith Schlemmer's visit appeared to be forgotten. Joy to the World!
The delicious smells of turkey roasting in the oven and fresh baked apply pie drifted through the house, reminding Fiona of the many Thanksgivings and Christmas'  past. Even though Christmas Eve was still four days away, she wanted to have a special luncheon for the family--and Nathan. She and her mother were just putting the finishing touches on the dining room table when there was a knock at the door. Fiona stilled.
Mom's gaze snapped to meet her daughter's. A wide smile stretching across her face, she said, "There's only one guest who hasn't arrived yet--your policeman boyfriend."
"He's a homicide detective, and I'd appreciate it if everyone would at least try to act normal," Fiona said, setting down the napkins to make her way to the door only to find her father, and Uncle Wilbur, who was sporting his Santa pants and boots and a bright red T-shirt. Yeah, Nathan wouldn't think that was too terribly strange. Oh well, Uncle Wilbur's attire would most likely be just one of a long string of strange things Nathan would witness during lunch...

But she never thought her brother would share the secret of her first theft years ago...

Back at school, the children were even more disruptive as they looked toward Christmas and then one boy said there wasn't any Santa Claus...and Fiona easily proposed that she might be able to have Santa visit their class before school closed...

Immediately Fiona walked over toward her uncle's home, only to see flashing lights from police vehicles! She soon realized that it was bad and when Nathan rushed to hug her, she knew that he'd been murdered!

Why would somebody murder an adorable man who played Santa Claus... And why were Santa's suits being stolen?!

This was quite traumatic for the family and soon Fiona's mother was anxiously wanting to find out who murdered her uncle...Fiona and Nancy might meet with disaster, because what was going on was much bigger than the death of Santa Claus... The real Santa was saddened to learn of the death of one of his best helpers, so he joined those who celebrated the life he'd given to brighten each Christmas... singing along with the other Santa helpers...

This was a slick criminal activity that had evolved wherever and whenever people want to make easy money. McDonald does an excellent job in keeping the family story light, while the dark side of the story is discovered. 

While I can highly recommend the book, I do need to add that I found many small proofreading errors... too many to ignore. But in talking to the author, who was sad that her editor had failed her, she promised that the book will be redone... It saddens me when this happens but, hey, the individual was paid for the work... sounds like something naughty, right?!


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