by Jackie Houchin
Here’s a new cozy mystery, just in time for Christmas. Have you ever been to a “Santa’s Village” complete with a Misses and Mister Claus? T. C. Wescott’s new book takes you there and makes you want to stay for the festivities, food and fun.
“Slay Bells is a cozy mystery that is indeed “cozy.” Imagine the aromas of cinnamon cookies, tarts, cakes and puddings baking, fireplaces glowing, villagers bundled in furs and mukluks, while powdery snow gently covers the famous hamlet.
Imagine mistletoe (a curious part of the mystery) and holly, twinkling lanterns (a beautiful ancient tradition there) and carols at the annual Christmas Festival. This is the setting for T.C. Wescott’s first Christmas Village mystery.
Two ladies feature in this tale. Super sleuth and much beloved is Maribel Claus, wife of the famous mister Claus who is conspicuous by his absence, being busy with his shop workers preparing for the “big night.” Meanwhile Maribel aids the fumbling Sheriff Fell in solving crimes in Christmas Village.
Rose Willoughby is her elderly friend, fellow goody-baker, and sometimes assistant in crime solving (when she can be trusted to keep secrets.) Rose owns Plum Cottage, a quaint Bed & Breakfast where at present; a traveling troupe of circus performers – magician, juggler, acrobat, fortuneteller, strong man, grumpy manager and assistant – is lodging.
When one of them is murdered in a most peculiar way – with a small silver bell left on his chest – the list of capable suspects is long. Each performer has a special ability that could almost have accomplished the “impossible” act. But which one? And mostly, how?
Wescott keeps the reader in suspense as first one then another is considered by Maribel and Sheriff Fell. When a second more curious murder occurs (again a bell is left on the body), there are even rumors of a legendary flying monster doing the killing.
While the village struggles to carry on with the festivities, and the performers huddle in fear wondering who will be the next to die, Maribel works to pry out and then trap the killer.
Slay Bells is a delightfully perplexing mystery. It will take a most astute armchair detective to discover HOW the murders are done before the author reveals the very believable solution!
Readers will love the atmosphere and the characters Wescott has created. The humorous superstitions, lovely holiday traditions, and the vague allusions to the famous mister all add to the fun of the story. And so is trying to beat Maribel in finding the “who” and “how.” Betcha you can’t!
Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher for review