Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Merry Merry Murder, by Jeff Boarts

Nothing says "Peace on Earth, goodwill to man" like a small town Christmas.  Unless, of course, you find a dead body instead of brightly wrapped packages.  That is exactly what happens the Christmas of 1954 in the small town of Kittanning.  George Cooper, a journalist at the local paper, stumbles upon the body of Dr. McDivvett, the adviser to the local historical museum.  It becomes apparent that Dr. McDivvett was not a popular man around town, and many people could have had motive for the murder.  With a close friend listed as the prime suspect, George and his wife Ruth begin their own investigation, with the some key information that the police lack.  The wind up getting far more than they bargained for.

In the past, I have not been much of a mystery reader, but for the second time, Jeff Boarts has hooked me.  I really like the historical aspect of the storyline.  The historical nature of the town plays a huge role in the plot, to an extent where the town itself seems to be a character in the story.  I feel like, in this second book featuring George Cooper, we get to see a whole new side of our amateur sleuth.  We learn more about George's past, and see a lot more of his relationship with his wife.  I really liked this aspect, as it made me really care about the characters.  At one point, George and Ruth are thrust into an precarious situation, and I found myself really caught up in that moment, because they had been so well developed as characters.  And the best part of the book is that, while the second in a series, it functions perfectly as a stand alone book as well.

I found myself truly surprised at the end of the story and the revelation of the murderer.  Throughout the story, I had no real clear indication as to who the culprit was; while there were lots of possibilities, it does not all come together clearly until the very end.  I also like that there was more than one mystery for George to solve.

The book appeals to readers of many genres other than mystery.  Fans of historical fiction, thrillers, and nostalgic small town stories will also find a lot to love in this book.  It would make an excellent Christmas gift for the book lover in your life.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in exchange for my honest review.

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