- Series: Worldwide Library Mysteries (Book 439)
- Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Worldwide Library; Reprint edition (November 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0373264399
- ISBN-13: 978-0373264391
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,832,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Cold Christmas (Worldwide Library Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2002
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". . . well-developed and highly believable characters." -- Publishers Weekly
"Weir continues to entertain with her crisp, easygoing style, some intriguing characters, and a complex scenario . . ." -- Kirkus Reviews
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Showing 1-4 of 9 reviews
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I'd classify this book as a cozy police procedural -- cozy because it takes place in a small college town in Kansas (we never learn quite how small, but the college has 10,000 students). The story begins with a divorced mother struggling to keep going to work (she's a church organist) despite a case of the flu. She arrives home feeling wretched to discover that the furnace in her old house has broken -- during a particularly bad cold spell. She calls a repairman, who turns out to be a pretty scary looking guy. Is he dangerous? Not long after this, her young daughter discovers a corpse in the basement -- is it the furnace guy? His face is unrecognizable. Why would he end up dead in her basement? And then there's her ex-husband -- we don't really trust him. Is he up to something? Something criminal? Is he connected to the murdered man?
The chief of police, Susan Wren, struggles to discover who killed the man. She's very short-handed because of a flu epidemic in town. The man she wishes were there is home sick in bed with the flu, as are many of her police force. In order to find the killer, she has to discover who the murdered man is, why he was killed, and why in this woman's house.
This mystery has a very vivid sense of place -- you can practically feel the cold as you read it, and you can imagine yourself there and imagine all the characters, although little description is given of their appearance. It was the kind of book you could hardly wait to get back to reading. The ending was a complete surprise, but if I had to fault the book, it would be that I had a hard time believing that this person committed the murder and for the reasons stated. Others might not have that problem, however. And it is fairly typical of mysteries that unlike murders in real life, where the killer is either a total stranger (serial killer) or someone fairly obvious (like someone close to the victim or a drug dealer), in mysteries the author has to make it not so obvious or else it wouldn't be any fun at all. Another minor problem involves an odd happening early in the book that never really gets explained. I guess it was simply a red herring.
There are a lot of twists and turns in the novel. It's got likeable characters and enough foreshadowing for the reader to worry about what's around the corner on the next page.
Caley's furnace quits in the dead of winter. Tim Holiday comes to repair it. Caley almost doesn't let him in as he's creepy. But, he gets the furnace working. Later he has to come back because the blower won't turn off and now the house is too hot. Caley has sent the three children with her mother-in-law Ettie Trowbridge. Her ex-Mat shows up. What else could go wrong.
Well, Tim Holiday is later found dead with his head and arms in her furnace. He actually died of a gun shot wound.
Her neighbor across the street, Pauline Frankens, told Chief Susan that she saw Tim Holiday coming and going from Caley's house probably five or six times. Caley had told Susan he was only there twice.
This book is small-town life in all it's glory. Ida Ruth from the Lutheran church was trying to get Caley fired as she didn't think a divorced worman should be playing the organ.
Chief Susan starts investigating Tim's murder. More deaths begin to happen. Some appear to possibly be accidents, but Susan begins to wonder what is going on.
I like this series and really like Chief Susan. She is unsure of whether she should stay in Hampstead or go back to San Francisco. Her husband of four weeks died some time ago and Susan is still trying to put her life together.
The dispatcher Hazel and officer Luke Demarco play big roles in the police department in this book because most everyone else is out with the flu.
The author has done a fabulous job setting up the story as well as the setting and characters. I am looking forward to reading many more books in this series.
I highly recommend this book.