Rose Willoughby’s Plum Cottage is teeming with guests who have come from The Big City to perform at the Christmas Festival. The troop from Big City include a manager, a magician, a juggler, a fortune teller, a weight-lifter and a pretty girl who co-manages the team. It is the first day of the festival and Barnaby Snipes, the manager, is found dead on a small hill near Plum Cottage. What is more shocking is that, after a night of heavy snowfall, there are no footprints to or from Snipes’ body.
The famous folklore in the village mentions an incident or two of Glockenvogel, a large bird that watches the skies and lifts its prey off its feet, quite literally. Samuel Pontifex, the one who discovered Snipes’ body is pretty sure that the bird is looking for its next prey.
Meanwhile Rose has sprained her ankle and Mrs. Maribel Claus, Rose’s friend, decides to help her out. The guests/troops need to be fed you see… Maribel is convinced that something sinister is behind Snipes’ murder. And when all the evidence points towards the weight-lifter Bull, he’s found dead in the park. There are one set of footprints leading to the body – it is the victim’s, and the other set of footprints leading from the body – the murderer’s.
What Maribel and the rest of the town council members (called The Elders), Doctor Wilcox, Sheriff Fell, and his Deputy Bentley do not understand is, how does the murderer commit these crimes. With no set of footprints (in case of Snipes) and only one set of footprints leading from Bull’s body, is the murderer a human being? Or, is Glockenvogel for real?
This is the second T.C. Wescott book that I read and I absolutely loved it. If there is a list of perfect books for Christmas, then I am pretty sure that Slay Bells is on that list.
I love T.C Wescott’s books. A cozy crime novel with oodles of suspense, Slay Bells is one of the best books that I have read so far! If I had to describe this book in three words, I would say Fascinating, Brilliant and Spectacular.
Not just the Elders or Doctor Wilcox or Sheriff Fell or Rose, even I was curious to know how the murderer committed these crimes. No DNA or fingerprint evidence whatsoever and no footprints, how on earth did the two victims die?
The folklore – Glockenvogel, and Doppelkopflome (double-headed lion) was a nice inclusion to the story. With Pontifex seeing a blue figure that hopped from one tree to another, the story of the big bird seemed almost real!
Maribel’s caring and curious nature reminded me of Miss Marple. But let me tell you, Maribel’s husband is Mr.Claus and he owns a toy shop. The Mister, as Maribel fondly calls him, is busy during Christmas, visiting children and giving them gifts. Does it ring a bell? There’s more about Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the end of the story.
How can I not mention the wonderful and mouth-watering delicacies that Maribel makes for the guests and for the stall at the festival! Tarts, cookies, sandwiches and whatnot, Maribel is an all-rounder! She’s a member at the Historical Society and she’s also one of the seven Elders (the council). Now you know why I called her an all rounder. There are also a mention or two of how Maribel helped the police in solving a case or two. And it goes without saying that Maribel (helps) solves the mystery behind these murders too.
There’s something about Wescott’s writing style that makes it quite different from the usual cozy or crime mystery. If you have read his first book – Running with Scissors, then you will know that in the story, Ruby kept the identity of the perp a secret till the very end. She makes sure that she reveals the identity of the perp in the very end! It almost made me want to go into the book (if that’s possible) and ask Ruby to hurry up!
Maribel reveals the identity of the perp and the perp is arrested. But the question of how the murders were committed still remains a mystery. Maribel makes Rose and the troop, Sheriff Fell and Mayor Cobblestone wait until the next day to reveal the mystery. Not just the characters in the book, even I was eager to know how the murderer committed the crime. Did they fly? Did they jump? Or, were they so strong that they could throw Snipes’ body over the hill?
There’s no doubt that T.C. Wescott is in the list of my favorite authors. His storytelling skills are mind-blowing, the stories are full of suspense and keeps the reader hooked onto the book until the very end and the endings are simply fantastic! If you are looking for a cozy crime mystery this Christmas then do not miss to check out Slay Bells by T.C.Wescott
Character Development: 5/5
Ending: 5/5 (I think I should give this a 6 on 5. Maribel’s deductive skills are appreciable!)
Overall rating: 5/5
Title: Slay Bells (A Christmas Village Mystery #1)
Author: T.C. Wescott
Published on: 23 November 2018
Genre: Crime and Mystery
Featured Image Credits: NetGalley
Thank you, NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased review.