Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen (Year-Round Christmas #1) by Vicki Delaney (Berkley Prime Crime, 3 November 2015).
Christmas is my favorite holiday, so I was really excited about this new series, and the first installment did not disappoint.
After the town's economy began to decline, the citizens of Rudolph, New York decided to dub it "America's Christmas Town", and celebrated the holiday twice a year. Rudolph began to revive, though much of the businesses' income was generated in the month of December.
Merry Wilkinson moved back to her hometown after the magazine she worked at was inherited by the publisher's abrasive daughter, to open a shop selling fine-quality toys and decorations. She's pleased with her decision, even though she somehow got talked into adopting a St. Bernard puppy she calls Mattie (short for Matterhorn).
Rudolph's tradition is to have a Santa Claus parade on December 1st, with many of the town's clubs and merchants participating. Merry's shop, Mrs. Claus's Treasures has a float that she's certain will win the "best in parade" trophy. But the tractor pulling the float won't start, and the driver can't figure out what's wrong.
After the post-parade party, catered by Merry's best friend Vicky, who owns Victoria's Bake Shoppe, Merry rushes home to walk Mattie. While they are walking through the park near Merry's home, Mattie spots a person lying in the snow. The person is Nigel Pearce, a photojournalist from an English lifestyle magazine who was working on a story about Rudolph.
At first it's assumed that someone was out to get Pearce, but after Merry learns that the tractor had been sabotaged, she begins to wonder if someone is trying to destroy Rudolph. Sales have begun to drop and people are cancelling reservations at inns and restaurants. Many of the townspeople -- including Merry -- are inclined to blame the mayor of the neighboring town, Muddle Harbor, whose fortuntes began to fall as Rudolph's rose.
The identity of the culprit is truly a surprise, though it does make perfect sense.
Rudolph is a charming town. I wish it were real, and closer to my home, so I could visit whenever I wished.
The publisher has generously offered a copy of Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen to one of my readers. Please comment below by 12:01 a.m. on November 9, and don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win. Entries from the U.S. only, please.
FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of the book.