Isn’t it exciting when you come across a new author whose work satisfies your need for a good read? Such was the case for me, as I read Leslie Caine’s Holly and Homicide for a nice cozy Christmas mystery.
Erin Gilbert, interior designer, and her significant other, Steve Sullivan, have formed a thriving decorating company set in Crestview Colorado. For Holly and Homicide, however, there’s more afoot in the mansion they’re decorating for Christmas than some misplaced mistletoe.
Sullivan and Gilbert are putting the final touches on the old Goodwin estate in Snowcap (about 70 miles from home base) when things begin to go terribly wrong. The Goodwin estate, recently sold by Snowcap’s mayor, Henry Goodwin, is besieged with angry citizens, building inspection woes, and dead bodies in its transformation from stately home to Bed & Breakfast. Erin and Steve do all they can to keep on schedule for opening The Snowcap Inn on Christmas Eve, but their problems keep mounting.
The Inn is an investment by Wendell Barton, a property mogul who’s gobbled up as much prime skiing property as possible (and robbed Snowcap’s Citizens of their quiet, small-town ancestry) Erin’s friend and interior design guru, Audrey Monroe, and a pop-singing star, Chiffon Walters, who is more of an over-grown spoiled child, than powerhouse investor.
As building codes are flunked and tempers flare, Wendell brings in his fix-it man and director of operations, Cameron Baker. Talk about sparks flying! Cam, as Erin knows him, is her long-lost lover from ten years before. Their surprising reunion results in a passionate kiss that Steve–remember Steve? Current love?–is none too happy with.
It isn’t long before Erin is wrapped up in a love-triangle, a decorating triangle, and a murder of the local building inspector that leave her and the town sheriff at odds. When the sheriff accuses Erin of the murder and another body shows up, it’s time for Erin to put down the decorator’s measuring tapes and pick up on her ability to solve crime.
While this book doesn’t have a lot of humor, the characters are delightful and tips about decorating from Audrey Munroe help keep the reader in a Christmas spirit. I also liked how the author edges up the tension, as much with the twists on who makes the best suspect this chapter as with the incidents that keep you turning the page.
A LITTLE ABOUT LESLIE CAINE
Holly and Homicide is just one of a series called the “Domestic Bliss” mysteries. Some other titles include Fatal Feng-Shui, Killed by Clutter, and Manor of Death by Leslie Caine. Ms. Caine is a certified interior designer who has also has been taken hostage at gunpoint in her life. She says that “writing about crime is infinitely more enjoyable than taking part.”
Ms. Caine has also written under her birth name, Leslie O’Kane and has two other mystery series:
- Allie Babcock series – the protagonist is a dog therapist
- Molly Masters series – the main character is a cartoonist (looking forward to reading some of those!)
I don’t have any rating criteria or “stars,” at this point, but I’d recommend Holly and Homicide for a quick holiday murder.