Sunday, November 26, 2023

Review: Murder Under the Mistletoe by Liz Fielding

by Liz Fielding
Release Date: October 31, 2023
2023 Joffe Books
Kindle Edition; 288 Pages
ISBN: 978-1835262252
Genre: Fiction / Cozy
Source: Review copy from publisher
3.5 / 5 Stars
Abby Finch heads to the old church hall armed with mistletoe and holly ready to help decorate in time for the festive season. But she arrives in time to witness a horrifying sight. Edward Marsh reaches to test the antique star at the top of the tree. There’s a fizz and the lights go out. Abby hears the sickening thud of a body hitting the ground. When the lights turn back on Edward is dead.

It soon becomes clear it was no accident.

The real victim should have been Gregory Tatton, a dapper silver fox, popular with the ladies of the seniors’ lunch club. And a known blackmailer . . .
My Thoughts
Murder Under the Mistletoe is the second book in the Maybridge Murder Mystery series and while I enjoyed it quite a bit, I did think the first book in the series was quite a bit stronger and much more interesting.  Abby is a reliable main character and while I understand that she and her family are going through a difficult time, I felt like the author was trying to create drama between her and her new romantic interest, something that didn't need to happen. The mystery was strong enough to stand on its own and so was the family dynamic the author described in this book. 
I liked Abby as a main character and enjoyed the relationships she had with those in her community. Due to the circumstances of her ex-husband's death, she has had to deal with some nasty rumours and fallout, but the community has come together to show their support to her and her family.  When she discovers that others are being threatened, she realizes there is a whole layer working beneath the town of which she was unaware and soon that threat affects her personally.  I enjoyed learning about the other members of the community through her interactions with them as she investigated the murders and really liked the fact she didn't put herself or anyone else in danger by doing so. She just took advantage of the opportunities when they arose. There are quite a few characters in this book and there seemed to be this assumption that the reader was familiar with the first book just by the way the characters interacted, as if you were already on intimate terms with them.
The mystery itself was quite good, but then I like a story about blackmail as I always wonder how far someone will go to protect their secrets, and that is exactly what this book was about.  Yes, I was able to figure out the mystery quite early, but enjoyed it for its own sake. I liked how the author intertwined Abby's family issues within the mystery as her kids were dealing with their first Christmas without their dad. I was not a fan of Abby's relationship as I felt like that was unnecessary drama, stirred up for the sake of just adding more drama and the whole thing felt forced.  Not my favourite part of the book.
Murder Under the Mistletoe is a good story about blackmail and how far you can push someone before they finally give in under the pressure. It's interesting as I was just watching a new Poirot film about this very same thing, and the result always seems to be the same, desperation.  The overall flow of the book was somewhat off, but the mix of dialogue and description was good, and I definitely enjoyed all the Christmas scenes.  I do feel that readers would benefit from reading the first book before reading this one however, so go, take a look, and enjoy Murder Under the Roses.


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