Bailey simultaneously paints the idyllic picture of a small Virginia town decorated for the holidays while contrasting it against crimes of murder and high-end theft, especially as Oliva continues to search for connections between the jewel heist and murder. She uncovers some disturbing evidence, hoping she can connect the dots without putting her own life in danger. The sense of community is strong throughout the fast-paced novel as evidenced by the support of likable figures like Olivia’s neighbor Sam, a gun-wielding former Marine who accompanies Olivia when she meets up with John Mack, a less-than-truthful private investigator.
While mystery is the primary focus which keeps readers guessing amid a plethora of twists and turns, the promise of a sweet Christmas romance between Olivia and Preston adds allure to the holiday setting. Olivia is a memorable protagonist, whose caring nature is equally matched with her intelligence. And while reading the previous installments would help provide backstory, it is a standalone novel sure to please fans of cozy, holiday mysteries.
Takeaway: Cozy Christmas mystery involving blackmail, murder and theft of a $15 million necklace.
Comparable Titles: Joanne Fluke’s Christmas Dessert Murder, Donna Andrews’s Twelve Jays of Christmas.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A