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

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Editorial Reviews


"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

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.


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Product Details

  • Series: A Penny Brannigan Mystery (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031262283X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312622831
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,309,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth J Duncan is the author of the award-winning, well-established Penny Brannigan mystery series set in North Wales. In November, 2015, her second series, Shakespeare in the Catskills, will launch with the publication of Untimely Death.
Elizabeth enjoys swimming, baking, reading and watching British crime dramas.
She lives in Toronto and spends several months each year in North Wales.

Please like her Facebook author page Elizabeth J Duncan or follow her on Twitter @ElizabethDuncan.

Customer Reviews

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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. 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 Smokey VINE VOICE on November 22, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"A Killer's Christmas" in Wales is the third in Elizabeth J. Duncan's Penny Brannigan fine cozy series. Brannigan, a Canadian transplant in her early fifities, has made a good life for herself since she came to North Wales after graduating from university. She started a small manicure business, made friends with the residents of the small village in which she lives, and continued to work on her painting and drawing . Recently, she's begun making changes in her life: moving into and redecorating a cottage she inherited; getting ready to open an up-market spa with her friend Victoria Hopkirk; enjoying a relationship with Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Davies; and, of course, solving murders.

In this book, Penny's spa is about to open, people are hurrying to get ready for Christmas, and the cold weather can be a challenge. Enter Harry Sanders, a handsome stranger, who catches the eyes of the ladies and is deemed full of romantic potential. No one is more attracted to him than Evelyn Lloyd, one of Penny's clients and the village's former postmistress. But then Harry is murdered and everyone is left to wonder not only who did it, but if Harry was really who and what he claimed to be.

The mystery plot is well-written, but the best part of Duncan's books may be the characters she creates. They are often eccentric -- I love the Reverend and Mrs. Evans and their beloved dog -- difficult, set-in-their ways, and very human. I look forward to each new book in the series not only for the mystery, but for the opportunity to catch up the characters, who seem like old friends.

Very good!
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