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A Killer's Christmas in Wales: A Penny Brannigan Mystery (Penny Brannigan Mysteries) Hardcover – October 25, 2011


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A Killer's Christmas in Wales: A Penny Brannigan Mystery (Penny Brannigan Mysteries) + A Small Hill to Die On: A Penny Brannigan Mystery (Penny Brannigan Mysteries) + The Cold Light of Mourning (Penny Brannigan Mystery, Book 1)
Price for all three: $46.48

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Product Details

  • Series: Penny Brannigan Mysteries (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780312622831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312622831
  • ASIN: 031262283X
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #670,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Elizabeth J. Duncan’s A Killer’s Christmas in Wales (Minotaur Books), the latest in her Penny Branigan series, is a plum-pudding of a book for those of us who love comfy mysteries."—Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author and Agatha, Barry, Dilys, and Macavity Award winner

"Cozy fans will enjoy this light, quick read (and delight at fellow fictional crime solver Dorothy Martin’s cameo over a quick manicure)."--Library Journal

"Readers who enjoy classic English mysteries will find lots to love about A Killer's Christmas in Wales....Duncan holds the interest of her readers with snappy dialogue and a well-plotted build-up.....Duncan excels at bringing her characters to life. The author's knack for adding just the right amount of backstory for each character is exceptional. A Killer's Christmas in Wales gives off an air of enchantment as Christmas finds this small village in Wales up to its eyeballs in mystery and mayhem."--Mystery Scene Magazine

"A delightfully intriguing, fast-paced cozy, à la Agatha Christie. Penny Brannigan, a type of Miss Marple, just happens to always stumble upon murders....I loved it. With its gorgeous, small-town setting; friendly, interesting characters; and baffling murders, it's a holiday cozy that is sure to please most everyone. A Killer's Christmas in Wales would make a great gift for the cozy lover. Reading it makes me wish I had also indulged myself with Duncan's previous Penny Brannigan mysteries."--Gumshoe

"If a cozy is your cup of tea, then A Killer’s Christmas In Wales should be high on your Christmas shopping list."--Hamilton Spectator

About the Author

Elizabeth J. Duncan is the first Canadian writer to win the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. She has been a finalist for the Agatha and Arthur Ellis Awards. She enjoys spending time each year in North Wales and lives in Toronto with her dog, Dolly. She teaches in the public relations programs at Humber College.


More About the Author

Elizabeth J Duncan's very first attempt at fiction writing, The Cold Light of Mourning, won the 2008 Malice Domestic/St. Martin's award and was published in 2009. It was nominated for an Agatha Award (USA) and Arthur Ellis Award (Canada).
Her second novel, A Brush with Death, was published in 2010. A Killer's Christmas in Wales followed in 2011 and 2012 was the year of A Small Hill to Die On. This novel won the 2013 Bloody Words Best Light Mystery award (the Bony Blithe).
The fifth novel in the series, Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By, was published in 2013.
Elizabeth lives in Toronto and spends several months each year in North Wales.
She attends three or four major mystery conventions each year (Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, Bloody Words and Love is Murder) and looks forward to meeting you there.
Please like her Facebook author page Elizabeth J Duncan or follow her on Twitter @ElizabethDuncan.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
This was a fun read, And her other books are great, too!
P. Belknap
Without giving away too much of the story, I do have to say that I did not figure out who did it until just a few pages before the killer was actually revealed.
Avid Mystery Reader
There are plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep readers guessing.
J. B. Hoyos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an absolutely delightful Christmas "cozy," bursting with all of the motifs I crave when the weather is cold and the days are short: "holly bushes in the hedgerows, bursting with red bright berries displayed against their backdrop of glossy, pointed leaves," glittering Christmas trees, even a production of A Child's Christmas in Wales.

The book takes place in a somewhat exotic locale: in this case a small town in North Wales, complete with thatched cottages, tearooms, and old-fashioned shops decorated for the season. The weather is bitter, with plenty of "icy pellets of sleet," snow, and frost to send shivers up readers' spines. In contrast, the living rooms are warmly lit with candles and gas fireplaces.

Penny Branningan, the amateur sleuth in her fifties, is the engaging, believable owner of the Happy Hands manicure salon. I'd love to meet her the next time I get my nails done. I'd definitely join her Stretch and Sketch Club and scramble over the Welsh hills to find stunning landscapes to paint. The book deftly probes the relationships among various denizens of Llanelen and, of course, the tumult that ensues when an American (!) man suddenly enters their lives. Several of the women are involved in romantic entanglements with men, but the strongest and most interesting relationships seem to be friendships between women, which is refreshing!

The perfect Christmas dinner (I can't get myself to say "lunch") of oven-browned turkey, Brussels sprouts, and roasted potatoes is interrupted by the shocking news that someone has acted on his or her darkest impulse. Sigh...no rest for the local constabulary.

Perhaps what I like best is being able to experience the ordinary details of everyday life, the cups of tea, the buttered scones, the cobbled stones of the town square, the warm sweater to wear under the raincoat, the linoleum on the kitchen floor, all of the minutiae that make it possible to believe in the murder and mayhem!
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Format: Hardcover
In the quaint, North Welsh village of Llanelen, everyone is busy preparing for a cozy Christmas. Feasts, parties, grand openings and window decorating contests are planned. However, there is a Grinch who is threatening to ruin everyone's holiday. Homes are being robbed and a conniving gigolo is swindling elderly women out of their lifesavings. Penny Brannigan, amateur detective, has an expensive brooch stolen on the day she is preparing to open her new salon. She is also endeavoring to learn who pushed Harry Saunders from the wall walk of the medieval Conwy Castle. Soon after, there is another gruesome murder and Penny realizes her life is also in danger.

Elizabeth J. Duncan's "A Killer's Christmas in Wales" was a most pleasant surprise. I found it a delightfully intriguing, fast-paced cozy, à la Agatha Christie. Penny Brannigan, a type of Miss Marple, just happens to always stumble upon murders. She is aided by her best friend and business partner, Victoria Hopkins. However, the focus for most of the novel's first half is placed on a widow, Evelyn Lloyd, and how she is conned by the slimy Harry Saunders. There ensues a tremendous amount of emotional drama. The citizens of Llanelen don't feel much sympathy for Harry upon learning he's been murdered. In fact, it wasn't until the second murder victim is discovered that I wanted the killer apprehended. There are plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep readers guessing.

Llanelen is the type of quiet, friendly, picturesque village in which I would love to live. The landscape is gorgeous, even in winter, and there are historical sites, such as nearby Conwy Castle, which draw the tourists. Penny, who is a longtime transplant from Nova Scotia, Canada, fell in love with the scenery and couldn't leave.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Avid Mystery Reader VINE VOICE on November 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can see from a couple of the reviews already written that those reviewers are familiar with this author's other works. I do know this is #3 in the series but this is the first one that I have read. Penny Brannigan (a co-partner in a spa) is the sleuth who tries to find out who the murderer of an American schmoozer and swindler is. The deceased was not a particularly likable character in that he tried to bilk a poor widow out of several hundred pounds. Without giving away too much of the story, I do have to say that I did not figure out who did it until just a few pages before the killer was actually revealed. This is really unusual for me and for that reason, I liked the novel. What I did not like was (and this is just my opinion) too much description of common life events that did not add much to the novel. Again, this is my opinion, others may find that having a lot of interaction of the characters and having a good look-see into the character's lives adds to the story. I felt it just slowed it down a lot (of course this tends to be a common theme for British-based novels). What is interesting is that after I finished the book, I gave it to my mom who also likes murder mysteries but she only read about 2-3 chapters and said it just did not make sense to her. She got lost in the detail as well and chose not to continue reading it. So, I'm not sure that everyone will find this book to their liking. Overall, it was a pleasant diversion from the work-a-day world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annova on September 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I guess I like the slower pace of the Penny Brannigan mysteries. IMO it's all part of the "cozy" style and since I've never been to Wales (had to Google the country so I could see what the towns and countryside actually look like), it's been a nice "visit" for me while reading Duncan's first two novels. My only criticism is that in both books I've read, I feel as though the author is sharing (via her characters' comments) her opinions about lifestyles, fashions, food, mores, etc., which I find a bit annoying. I'm sure other authors are doing this all the time but maybe not so blatantly. Additionally, frequently I have no idea which character is "speaking" since the author doesn't let us know (something her editor should pick up on but doesn't). But I like Penny and her significant other, Gareth, Florence and Mrs. Lloyd, and the hilarious Bronwyn and her husband, and look forward to reading more in this series.
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