Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Slay Bells - Kate Kingsbury

Slay Bells
A Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery
Kate Kingsbury
Berkley Prime Crime


It’s Christmastime at the Pennyfoot Hotel, and owner Cecily Sinclair Baxter has decided to host a holiday party for the children of Badger’s End. Since no children’s Christmas party would be complete without a visit from Father Christmas, Cecily has lined up a volunteer to slide down the chimney and surprise the kids. When her first choice of Father Christmas backs out because of illness, she’s more or less forced to accept Sid Porter, well known around the village for his penchant for alcohol.

On the day of the party, Father Christmas never comes down the chimney. Going outside to investigate, Cecily finds Roland, who was assigned to help Father Christmas navigate the chimney, dead on the ground, his neck broken. All thoughts of an accidental fall from the roof evaporate when the unfortunate Sid Porter is found in the chimney, dead of knife wounds. It doesn’t take much to get the staff talking, and soon maids are reporting seeing the ghost of Father Christmas flitting through rooms. Cecily isn’t sure she believes that, but cannot deny that furniture is being moved and placed in strange locations. Despite the objections of her husband, Cecily is determined to get to the bottom of this holiday mystery.

A new Pennyfoot Hotel mystery is always a festive occasion. This is a reunion book, of sorts, and longtime readers will be happy to see old friends. New readers will feel welcome, as well. Returning to the gracious hotel with its cast of eccentric but lovable characters seems a bit like coming home. The mystery, despite the gruesome circumstances, is a cozy, and all violence occurs off-stage, so to speak. Cecily is a wonderful amateur sleuth, and a strong and gracious woman. Plenty of hotel guests make for an interesting pool of suspects, and will keep readers guessing to the end. Curl up next to a fire, or a Christmas tree, and lose yourself for a few holiday hours at the Pennyfoot Hotel.

Rating: 7
November 2006
ISBN# 0-425-21200-9 (trade paperback)


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