The 12 Cozy Mystery Carols of Christmas
by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mistletoe and Hauntings
by Rachael Stapleton is one of the cozy mysteries included in The 12 Cozy Mystery Carols of Christmas: A Collection of Holiday Cozy Mystery Novellas by Members of the Sleuthing Women Authors Collective,
and is part of Stapleton’s Bohemian Lake
series, most specifically, the debut novella in the Hexing Holidays in Bohemian Lake
set featuring Mallory Vianu. I look forward to reading the other 11 stories based on how good this one was.
Mallory’s family owns the local lake resort hotel – the Caravan Manor – and the women of her family possess special gifts that allow them to see things that other people do not. For example, matriarch of the Roma family, Nana Vianu, is a gifted fortune teller whereas Mallory is a clairvoyant.
The setting of this story is the night of the annual Mistletoe Ball on the night of Yule, the longest night of the year as well as when the veil between the plane of the living and that of the dead is the thinnest and most fragile. It is during this time that Mallory is able to view and help the spirits of the deceased that have not yet crossed over to their rightful place of rest. This year’s ball is being held at the old Salazar Mansion which is sure to be chockful of stranded spirits and Mallory figures it will be a very busy night.
The new owner of the mansion is Caspar Holly, an obnoxious, recently-arrived resident out of Hollywood. Previously a famous film director, he’s quickly settled into the community (one in which he’d apparently lived 25 years earlier), and is directing the town’s annual Christmas play, and by all rumors getting pretty chummy with the too-young-for-that Meg Patone.
Mallory reluctantly attends the ball with her boyfriend, Officer Kaden Bones, by her side, and almost immediately runs into his yet-to-be-ex-wife, Donna, an FBI agent in town working on a case with the local department. Kaden and Mallory both have been trying to get Donna to sign divorce papers to no avail.
Drink in hand, Mallory is attempting to communicate with her first ghost of the night, the former owner of the mansion, Rory Salazar, when a scream erupts from the front of the house. Someone has poisoned the host, Caspar Holly and the best suspect is Mallory’s friend, the caterer, Pike. With Nana Vianu’s warning of the visitation of 3 spirits this night, Mallory and Kaden race to discover the murderer before the 3rd spirit is created.
This is another good, action-filled story in the Bohemian Lake
series which just never gets old. Almost all of the series’ quirky characters make an appearance or get a mention and with the unfolding of the mystery readers get a few more interesting tidbits about these fun, loveable people.
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