Customer Reviews: Slay Bells (A Special Pennyfoot Hotel Myst)
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VINE VOICEon January 2, 2007
Cecily Sinclair Baxter is annoyed when Sid Porter fails to show up at the children's party where he was hired to play Father Christmas. Her annoyance soon turns to horror when it's discovered that one of her footmen fell to his death from the roof where he was apparently helping Sid. Even worse, Sid, dressed in his Father Christmas costume, is found stabbed to death in her chimney. With the Pennyfoot Hotel filled at Christmas, Cecily does her best to keep the deaths quiet but it's not easy to do with a practical joker moving things around the hotel and a clown "ghost" hanging around the hotel. The police are on holiday and Cecily starts investigating the deaths herself. While Cecily is investigating, she is also worried about her husband Baxter's strange behavior and wonders what secrets he is keeping from her.

"Slay Bells" is a nice entry in Kate Kingsbury's delightful Pennyfoot Hotel series. The book is set in England in 1914 and has a nice old-fashioned feel to it. Kingsbury fills the book not only with the mystery but also with Christmas traditions such as holiday shows with skits and dancers and descriptions of food including blood pudding which makes the time period come alive. All the favorite Pennyfoot characters are there: Cecily, Baxter, Gertie, Mrs. Chubb, Michel, Madeline, the Colonel, and Phoebe are all there. Ex-maid Doris even pays a visit to the Pennyfoot and there's a new maid, Pansy, who figures quite prominently in the story line. There are several plot lines in the book: the murders, the "ghost", the practical jokes, Baxter's secret and Kingsbury neatly ties everything up at the end with quite a few surprises. The actual murder plot line is well done and the identity of the murderer will be a surprise to most readers. As Kingsbury often does in her books, the motive is a sad one that will have readers in some ways feeling sorry for the murderer.

"Slay Bells" is a nice cozy mystery to read.
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on July 15, 2012
Her Christmas series are fun. Some of the plots are a little better than others, but in general, they are a fun, light read with interesting characters. Her feminist perspective is done with good humor and is n't heavy-handed.
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on November 10, 2006
Pennyfoot hotel manager Cecily Sinclair is hustling a Christmas children's party for those who reside in Badger's End, England. She doesn't anticipate any problems because it has been a year since there was a murder or any inexplicable happenings. The man who is portraying Father Christmas is going to come down the chimney but as time passes, Sid Porter fails to show up. The footman Roland who was to help Sid get down the chimney is found on the ground with a broken neck.

At first everyone thinks it was an accident but when Sid's body is found in the chimney knifed to death, Cecily believes Roland witnessed the murder and that is why he was killed. While Cecily starts asking questions, much to her husband's displeasure, a clown is seen by the servants who think it is a ghost and furniture goes missing but is found in strange places. When another person is found murdered at the Pennyfoot, Cecily is determined to find the killer but is almost killed by a person she thought she could trust.

Anytime a Pennyfoot hotel mystery is published is a time for rejoicing. The workers at the hotel are like a family and many are eccentrics who in the name of friendship help their boss who they adore. It is hard figuring out who the killer is because they are so many suspects who could have done it. The protagonist is a strong-willed assertive woman who lets no one, including her husband, make her decisions for her. Kate Kingsbury writes a charming cozy that is entertaining and will appeal to readers who don't like violence in their mysteries.

Harriet Klausner
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on November 26, 2013
I've not read any of the other Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries so my disappointment with Slay Bells is probably because I'm not familiar with the characters and main story lines. It got mostly good reviews by fans of this author and series which is why I chose it. I'm glad it wasn't too expensive; I found it rather silly, and after 50 pages didn't want to waste time finishing it.
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on March 24, 2013
What fun it was to celebrate the holiday season with my friends at the Pennyfoot Hotel. Have not read a Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery I didn't enjoy from the first page to the last. You just can't go wrong with this series.
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on December 15, 2012
Slay Bells is the 2nd book in the special Pennyfoot Christmas series. It was published in 2006. It was also the first Kate Kingsbury book that I have read. I found that I didn't need to read her regular Pennyfoot series to follow, enjoy and understand the characters and storyline.

Pennyfoot Hotel is ready for the Christmas season. The hotel is filled to capacity with guests. Children from Badger Falls have arrived at Pennyfoot Hotel for a holiday party. Father Christmas is suppose to come down the chimney to greet the children but he doesn't arrive. Father Christmas is later found lodged in the chimney and has been murdered. A footman who was assisting on the roof has fallen off the roof and is dead also.

Other events occur at Pennyfoot. A clown is spotted by some of the help who think it is a ghost. Heavy items are being moved to different locations. Cecily Sinclar Baxter,the owner of Pennyfoot, wants to get to the bottom of what is happening. Her husband Baxter does not want her involved as he fears for the safety of Cecily.

The local policeman is on vacation and Cecily does not want to call in the Inspector so she investigates on her own. The only qualm I had with the book is that the fear of losing business at the Pennyfoot and a dislike of the Inspector seemed to be more important than the safety of the guests. It is fiction though so it gave the book it's plot with Cecily investigating on her own.

It was a fast read. There were holiday activities at the Pennyfoot. Have the first book in the regular series and more of the special Christmas series to read.
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on January 14, 2013
Engish murder mysteries at the turn of the century with no sex or real violence, plus the pure joy of reading a mystery taking place a hundred or so years ago and obtaining information of the language and customs of the time. Pure reading enjoyment.
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on May 18, 2008
This is yet another great mystery by Kate Kingsbury. She delights me with her wonderful Pennyfoot Hotel staff and guests. I loved this book. Makes me want to pack up my bags and go for a visit. I wish the other books in the in the "Pennyfoot Hotel " mysteries were still available. I had to have my library get them by the interlibrary loan service. But, it was well worth it. You don't want to miss any of these books.
She is starting a new series this fall, and another Pennyfoot Hotel book will be out soon called "Ringing in Murder."
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on July 24, 2008
I love curling up with a cozy mystery at Christmas, to the point where it's become a real tradition, taking its place alongside egg nog, Christmas movies, singing carols and decorating the tree.

This little effort does not disappoint. I enjoyed every minute of it, and would recommend it if you love a little murder with your Christmas. The atmosphere of an Victorian/Edwardian Inn at Christmas, combined with murder, helped me kick off the season in fine fashion.
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on January 24, 2010
Through this book, I became acquainted with the Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries, and have enjoyed several of them. I especially enjoy the period details.
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