BOOK REVIEW: 'Twas the Knife Before Christmas {A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery} by Jacqueline Frost

I truly am so grateful for having found Jacqueline Frost's Christmas Tree Farm Mystery series last year, because escaping into the quaint town of Mistletoe, Maine each holiday season is a G-rated pleasure that puts me in my Christmas feels, and kinda sorta makes me want to try my hand at jewelry-making {thanks Holly!}. While Twelve Slays of Christmas was my first foray into this series; 'Twas the Knife Before Christmas welcomed me back with open arms, and easily avoided the second book slump, acting instead to make me more vested in these charming characters - and ensuring that I return for the next installment.

Twenty-seven-year-old Holly White thought that her return to her family's Christmas tree farm, Reindeer Games, last year was merely a temporary act to help heal her broken heart, and decide what her next move in life would be; but after a brush with death during her stay, and an introduction to the dreamy Boston-bred, Sheriff Evan Gray, she decided to put down roots in the idyllic locale of Mistletoe, Maine. Flash forward a year, and Holly is on cloud nine. Her jewelry-making ecommerce business is booming {a little too much tbh}; she has an old made new again bestie in Caroline, the owner of Caroline's Cupcakes; the Reindeer Games Inn is finally in the process of construction, with a grand opening date of next year; and, while her love life may be lacking due to Evan's secretiveness over the past few months, she's not complaining. That is, until death comes knocking. Again.

As the daughter of a powerful local politician, Caroline is used to being fixed up with boring, oft-times overly friendly men to please her father. The latest guy on that list of suitors is none other than Derek, the wealthy, womanizing son of a judge who got a little too handsy with Caroline during a dinner, and was subsequently chastised by the cupcake connoisseur. Unfortunately, this lambasting was caught on camera in a clip seen round the community. No big deal, amiright? Negative. When Derek turns up dead in a life-size bowl of peppermint candy in the town square, all signs point to Caroline as the killer. The police refuse to cast their suspicions on anyone else, going so far as to take Caroline into custody, so Holly does what any good BFF would do...launches her own investigation. After all, what's the holiday season without a little detective work and death?

With just ten days left until Christmas, Holly knows that she is Caroline's only hope for spending the holidays at home with her family {as opposed to behind bars}. When she catches the eye of a Santa-suited stalker leaving peppermint candies in his wake, Holly is convinced that she's on the trail of the true killer; but without Evan to ping theories off of, she's not sure if she'll be able to bring Derek's murderer to justice before she faces her own silent night. Permanently.

This book y'all! I absolutely loved every second of it. With Frost's previous installment, Twelve Slays of Christmas, my issue with Holly was that she frequently read like a teenager. This time around, with the role of her parent's diminished, and adult friendships made more prevalent, she has matured so much, and come into her own. Her friendship with both Caroline and Ray is something I love seeing grow; while the development of her relationship with Evan feels very organic and relatable. The fact that their romance takes a backseat to the mystery and friendships developing throughout is something that I am so here for, because romance is something I'm not seeking when I pick up a mystery. Since we're on the subject of characters, I can't forget to give a shoutout to the quirky feline Cindy Lou Who who has captured my heart with her soul-searching gaze and selective friendships. Believe me when I say that, despite all of the murders that Mistletoe seems to experience, I am so ready to pack my bags and move there. Pretty sure I need to make book three, Slashing Through the Snow, mine immediately!

Star Rating: *****



Ananka said...

Sounds good :-)

ellie said...

Such a great book with the Christmas theme! Love the review!

Better Left Unsaid said...

Oh, it looks so good! Love the cover too! Thanks for the review! Happy Holidays!

R's Rue said...

I need to read it. Thank you. Merry Christmas. You are a blessing to me. Love you friend.

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