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Murder on the First Day of Christmas (Chloe Carstairs Mysteries) (Volume 1) Paperback – January 17, 2013
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About the Author
Billie Thomas is the pseudonym of a Birmingham-based author. After the real Billie passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2011, getting Murder on the First Day of Christmas, the first of a series, revised and published was her daughter’s top priority as a way to honor the mom who had given her a lifelong love of books. In her real life, Ms. Thomas writes within the advertising industry and is a founding member of the writing collective, IndieVisible. Other publications include Bar Code: Your Personal Pocket Decoder to the Modern Dating Scene. The author enjoys combining her interests in decorating and gourmet cooking with her writing. She is still trying to solve the mystery of her own love life. Ms. Thomas welcomes your contacts at email@example.com. You are welcome to friend her on Facebook as chloe.carstairs.73 and to tweet with her as @ChloeGetsAClue.
Top customer reviews
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Initially I sought this one out because I needed a holiday-themed novel in December, and this one fit the bill because it looked easy, cute, and was a cheap price. I never figured I'd enjoy this one as much as I ended up doing - usually with cozies my rating is an average 3 star slap and decent impression. Now that I've read this, I not only loved it but want to continue more of the series.
On that note, when I went to read about the author, I found out that the person who wrote this was a mother who died, and this book was the result of her daughter who wanted to revise the book and see it published in her mother's memory.
It's a nice touch then that this story focuses on an unusual mother/daughter relationship. Cozies often feature pairs of siblings or other relatives, but they don't usually have such an unusual combination that comes across realistic, workable, and downright funny. Fans of the series such as Ophelia and Abby will know what I mean - those pairings were enjoyable in their own ways, but they were a little too purified to come off as true.
Here there's argument, hiding, sarcasm, humor, non-perfection but still close bonding of mother/daughter. Fun stuff. Not only does the plot grow to be more intriguing and intricate, but the mother/daughter bond connects strongly and flourishes in the end into its own new story.
Besides the pair of daughter Chloe and mother Amanda, there's hilarious side characters who work their charms too, such as the local town bimbo, shifty committees, and local crime boss who enjoys flirting with mommy dearest. Be still my heart!
The mystery is amusing (someone stabbed in a santa costume on Christmas shouldn't be amusing, but I'm twisted this way and the author helped it be so.....), but it's more than just funny. It's genuinely good. The pair investigates, questions, hypothesizes, ponders, chases red herrings, holds their own theories, shares other theories, and uncovers the culprit cleverly in the end. It's not an easy guess, there are misdirections, new leads, fun mystery injections, plausible villains to suspect, and no clear arrows pointing an obvious direction. There's not much more you can ask for in a mystery.
Obviously I recommend this for mystery and cozy fans, but please don't wait for the holidays only - this is a mystery that works all year round and I can't wait to continue the series, which the daughter is continuing in her mother's memory and name. The Kindle price is 2.99, which is totally worth it.
Bringing murder and intrigue to the Magic City, Thomas crafts a comical Christmas who-done-it where the Birmingham elite spend their holidays trying outdo each other by having the biggest party, spreading the most gossip, and making each other the likeliest suspects for two high-profile murders.
With Chloe Carstairs, Thomas gives us a lead character so likable and identifiable that you feel like you're reading the adventures of a close friend. Like many in their thirties, her personal life hasn't quite panned out like she planned, and her views on dating, relationships, and self esteem make her feel real as she remains ultimately optimistic despite several lessons in humility (occasionally involving underwear).
The mystery is fun, surprising, and well-crafted. The story takes the reader through various somewhat fictional pitstops around the city of Birmingham, providing a look at the city that non-natives may not have anticipated. As characters and motives are investigated and uncovered respectively, the story unfolds at an even and enjoyable pace.
But the heart of the novel lies with the mother/daughter relationship between Chloe and Amanda. The two make a great comedic duo as they partner in both decorating and sleuthing. Thomas gives the pair a very touching balance of tension, support, and love that feels very genuine. Chloe's father and sister also fill out the family dynamic, and as no one in the family hesitates to speak their mind or argue when they feel it's necessary, the unit doesn't fall into the trap of feeling like too perfect of a family for reality. This is a family that loves each other, and continues to do so through life's bumps, bruises, and missteps.
It is Christmas time and Amanda has come out of retirement to decorate, with Chloe's help, several prized client's homes for the Christmas season. Price is no object and the ladies are having a wonderful time, decorating lawns, homes and more...until, Baby Jesus gets stolen, and a client finds a severed hand, then ends up deceased under the 'Partridge and Pear Tree.'
Chloe and Amanda feel compelled to aid the police with their investigation, after all, the parties must continue.
This book opened with humor and it was greatly spread throughout the novel. I found the characters greatly entertaining and likeable. Chloe is dealing with the 'single' life and is found in many unusual situations.
I hope this book becomes the first in a series as I truly enjoyed the writing style and snappy dialog within.
Most recent customer reviews
Author: Billie Thomas
Publisher: Annie Acorn Publishing LLC
I enjoyed the mystery part of the book. It kept me guessing until the very end. The mystery is well-crafted and interesting.Read more