From Publishers Weekly
The festive fifth holiday mystery from the bestselling mother-daughter Clarks (after 2006s Santa Cruise
) focuses on a wish-fulfillment theme many Americans dream about—winning a fortune in the lottery. As Christmas approaches, the folks of Branscombe, N.H., are celebrating their first Festival of Joy. Visiting from New York City are novelist Nora Regan Reilly and her PI daughter, Regan Reilly, and their close friends Alvirah and Will Meehan, who won $40 million in the lottery a few years earlier. When four employees of Conklins Market win $160 million using numbers supplied by their associate Duncan Graham, they decide to share their winnings with Duncan. Duncan, alas, has vanished. The Reillys and Meehans soon get on a trail of intrigue involving an abduction, thieves, con men and a second winning lottery ticket. Though the plotting and the characterization can be as thin as early winter ice, this trifle still rates a cheerful ho ho ho. (Nov. 18)
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In the fifth Christmas mystery by the real-life mother-daughter team (Mary and Carol), the fictional mother-daughter team (Nora and Regan) is on the way to Branscombe, New Hampshire, for an old-fashioned, small-town Christmas festival. With the carefully orchestrated festival only days away, the workers at Conklin’s market, which is set to cater the affair, are disgruntled by unfair treatment from Old Man Conklin’s newest wife, especially when she denies them their expected bonuses. But when four of the workers realize that they hold a winning lottery ticket worth $160 million, they gladly snub Conklin and his wife, leaving them shorthanded with the festivities approaching. The group is concerned, though, when a fifth worker, Duncan, who has been part of their lottery-buying co-op for years but had opted out this time, cannot be found, as they planned to share the winnings with him anyway. Duncan had been cutting back on “useless” expenses, based on the dubious advice of scam-artist “investors,” and now he finds himself holding secrets that put him in serious danger. The amiable cast of characters—from the townsfolk to the two bumbling crooks to Regan and Nora’s group of friends—gives this pleasant holiday diversion a light charm that would be welcome any time of the year. --Mary Frances Wilkens