Stalking Around the Christmas Tree by Jacqueline FrostStalking Around the Christmas Tree by Jacqueline Frost
Series: Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #4
Published by Crooked Lane Books on October 17, 2023
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
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Tis the season to solve a murder—and innkeeper Holly White knows she’ll have to make her list and check it twice if she wants to catch the killer in the fourth Christmas Tree Farm mystery from bestselling author Jacqueline Frost.

For inn keeper Holly White, Christmas time in Mistletoe, Maine, is the ultimate holiday gift. Business at the Reindeer Games Inn is booming, her wedding to Sheriff Evan Gray is nearly here, and the annual parade is about to begin. The town is lucky to have another gift this year with the state’s ballet company staying for several performances of The Nutcracker. But disaster strikes when Tiffany, the lead ballerina, shows up dead on a float during the parade, the Rat King’s mask nearby. Holly will have to spruce up her sleuthing skills if she wants to catch the killer before Christmas—and her wedding day.

Immediately, Holly discovers that Tiffany had more than a few secrets. She finds out that the star of the show had a super fan that no one knows anything about. And the show’s understudy slips some other intriguing information Holly’s way: not only was Tiffany secretly seeing someone romantically, but there seems to be more than one rat in this company. When Holly discovers a secret passage leading to Tiffany’s dressing room, with footprints leading out; she wonders if this is evidence of a secret lover—or a stalking killer.

With an impending snowstorm and the ballet company on the way out of town, Holly must act quickly if she wants to find the person responsible for this terrible murder. Will she be able to save Christmas—or will her investigation turn cold like the weather?

It’s Christmas in Mistletoe, Maine, and for the fourth year in a row, someone is murdered. This time around, the dead woman is the lead ballerina in the visiting production of The Nutcracker. And of course, several members of the ballet and the choreography master are staying at Holly’s inn at her parents’ tree farm.

I love a good holiday mystery and Stalking Around the Christmas Tree was fun. It’s filled with all things Christmassy – The Nutcracker Ballet, presents for charity, delicious goodies, and plenty of snow. There’s enough romance to make me smile, but not so much that it takes over the story. And there’s a murder.

I enjoy the characters in this series. Holly is surrounded by a supportive, loving, quirky bunch of family and friends. And yes, her boyfriend Evan is the town sheriff, which seems a bit of a cheat, but I actually like him and he treats Holly as if she’s capable and intelligent. This can be read as a stand-alone, but reading the series from the beginning gives you a better feel of the relationships and for how Holly’s life has changed over the last four years.

The mystery portion was well done. The story was paced well and the whodunnit made sense and fit with the clues. The secondary mystery of a stalker who is following Libby, Evan’s sister, does a nice job of complicating the investigation.

And the ending was adorable. This would be a perfect December read.

About Jacqueline Frost

Jacqueline Frost is a pen name of Julie Anne Lindsey. Julie is an award-winning and bestselling author of mystery and romantic suspense. She’s published more than forty novels since her debut in 2013 and currently writes series as herself, as well as under the pen names Bree Baker, Jacqueline Frost, and Julie Chase. She is represented by Jill Marsal at the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and is the 2020 Golden Quill Award Winner for Series Romance, a double finalist for the 2020 National Readers Choice Award for Romance Adventure, the 2019 Winner of the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Mystery & Suspense, the 2019 Stiletto Award for Romantic Suspense and the 2019 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award for romantic suspense.

When Julie’s not creating new worlds or fostering the epic love of fictional characters, she can be found in Kent, Ohio, enjoying her blessed Midwestern life. And probably plotting murder with her shamelessly enabling friends. Today she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.

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