Friends, if your house is anything like mine, it’s in full blown Christmas mode! Decorating, list-making, shopping… haven’t gotten to baking or gift wrapping yet, but those are coming. And while this is a super fun season, it gets kinda crazy!
So when you need a break, what do you do? Me? I sit down with a coffee or hot chocolate, and I read a Christmas-themed book. (Well, I tend to do that whether I need a break or not, but I digress.) I’ve done a few Book Notes posts with Christmas stories, like Christmas Cake Murder, Premeditated Peppermint, and one a while back called As The Christmas Cookie Crumbles. Today, I have a new one for you!
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In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon is the first in in the new Book Tea Shop Mystery series. The publisher description begins like this:
In the run-up to Christmas Eve, organizer of book-themed tea parties Callie Aspen and her lovable Boston terrier will have to conquer threefold trouble—a mysterious will, a missing heirloom and a dead body—to restore the festive spirit to their small town.
As the novel opens, we meet Callie, on the way to assist her Great Aunt Iphy (short for Iphigeneia) with a holiday tea party at the impressive and historical Haywood Hall. Callie is just home for the holidays, and the last thing she wanted was to see some certain familiar faces from her past. As preparations for the event take place, Callie is drawn into family drama, deeply hidden secrets, and… a shocking murder.
Along with Iphy, and handsome Deputy Falk, Callie must not only uncover clues to what transpired at the party, but also help a shattered family rediscover their Christmas spirit and love for one another.
This is a fantastic opener for the series. I love that it opens at Christmas time, and the seasonal release makes for a fun introduction to the little town of Heart’s Harbor, Maine.
Like many cozy mysteries, the book features a small village full of quirky characters. Here I’d say that Haywood Hall, the main setting for many scenes in this book, has also been made into a character all its own, focusing on its history, its secrets, and its stately elegance. Capping off the list of characters is a delightful little Boston Terrier named Daisy, who seems to greatly enjoy taking part in community life.
Another fun aspect of this story is Great Aunt Iphy’s shop: a vintage tea room called Book Tea, where every sweet concoction is literary themed or contains a bookish clue. (For instance, early in the book, a treat plate is referenced as having a connection to the Brother Cadfael mysteries.) The holiday tea at Haywood Hall is described as having Agatha Christie like elements to it, so the references to more classic mysteries add charm.
The wrap-up to the mystery doesn’t come all in one bite… as you read through, you’ll discover that many characters have their own secrets that they’re keeping, and there’s blame to go around. But as with any good “whodunit” book, there can only be one killer.
So, to recap…. darling dogs, classic book references, scrumptious chocolate treats, an intriguing mystery, and a picturesque snowy village at Christmas. I’m not sure what else you could look for in “sit down and relax” sort of book!
I look forward to reading more in this series… the second book is slated to release in summer 2019, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Callie and for Heart’s Harbor.
In Peppermint Peril is out now in hardcover or e-book. Many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an advance reader copy of this title for review.
Get In Peppermint Peril:
So, what about all of you? Reading any great Christmas-themed stories? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! I’ll be reviewing a couple more in the coming weeks… let me know what you think of the titles I’ve posted. Happy reading!
(Featured on Jo’s Booktastic Thursday link up!)