Title: Slashing through the Snow (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #3)
Author: Jacqueline Frost
Published on: 12 October 2021
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm is going into the B&B business and Holly White is looking forward to her new role as an innkeeper. Mistletoe, Maine’s sheriff Evan Gray has deputized his sister Libby to help Holly wrap presents for Mistletoe’s toy drive.
A vicious critic of local businesses, Karen Moody, checks in and hell breaks loose. One frosty evening, her body is found gift-wrapped in the toy donation box. Cookie, a local resident and Holly’s friend is the main suspect, after all, it was Cookie’s gift to Holly (a nutcracker) that was used as a murder weapon. To add to this mess, one of the guests at the Inn says they heard Cookie saying she would kill Karen given a chance…
To find the identity of the killer and prove Cookie’s innocence, Holly must once again dip her toes into amateur sleuthing. Well, the last two times she tried something of this sort, she almost became the killer’s next victim.
Slashing through the Snow is the third book in Jacqueline Frost’s Christmas Tree Farm Mystery series. I have waited for almost two years to read this installment and it goes without saying Slashing through the Snow is a new favorite in the series.
The story begins with Holly and Cookie wrapping the toys they received through the donation drive. Meg, one of the guests arrives but refuses to part with the toy she has in her bag. She says it is for another guest and gives Karen Moody, another guest at the Inn, ‘the look.’ Cookie gives Holly an early Christmas present – a wooden nutcracker. After a while, Cookie and Holly visit Heather (a local restaurant where Holly’s mother works part-time) for dinner.
When they arrive at the Inn, Holly observes the porchlight is turned off. Did one of the guests switch off the light? But as Holly and her friends (she’s joined by Ray and Libby at the restaurant) go near the door, they see a huge donation bag leaking – with blood. And inside it is the dead body of a gift-wrapped Karen Moody. Evan, the local sheriff and Holly’s boyfriend is with them; he secures the crime and calls for backup.
The murder weapon is found to be a nutcracker; the same nutcracker which Cookie gave to Holly hours ago. There is no doubt that Cookie’s fingerprints are on the weapon – she wrapped the gift, you see. But when one of the guests claims they heard Cookie tell Holly she would kill Karen given a chance, Cookie becomes the main suspect.
Holly is warned by her parents and Evan not to investigate the case. They fear the killer might harm her, just like last time. But Holly doesn’t want to sit tight and see her best friend in handcuffs or behind bars for a crime she did not commit.
As Holly ‘unofficially’ and ‘secretively’ starts to investigate the case, the killer is on prowl. He threatens her and there comes a time when she nearly misses being killed.
The best thing about this series is the theme – it’s everything Christmassy. From Reindeer themed gaming village to restaurants that serve delicacies made for Christmas to the names of the characters (Holly, Cookie) – Christmassy, indeed. Jacqueline Frost is a marvelous storyteller. As I was reading through, it felt like a movie playing in my head.
I absolutely loved the book. The mystery behind the murder of a vicious critic kept me guessing till the end. When it comes to murders of a vicious person, the suspects list is long and motives to murder are plenty. But who would have done it and why? Holly does an excellent job gathering clues – from learning who were Karen’s previous ‘victims’ to a ‘best kept secret.’
Christmas is around the corner and Slashing through the Snow by Jacqueline Frost is a perfect book to get you into a festive spirit. By the way, there’s a huge surprise at the end of the story. No spoilers but if you have read the previous books and looking forward to reading this one, you might want to know the surprise is going to change a lot of things for everyone in the story.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.