On a more serious note, Leslie Meier’s “Gingerbread Cookies and Gunshots” rounds out the trilogy of novellas offered in Gingerbread Cookie Murder. “It was Christmas…again.” That’s how this Lucy Stone mystery begins. A much more somber tone than the two previous entries.
The last in my “A Taste of Murder” discussion series, Gingerbread Cookie Murder features stories by authors Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier. They previously teamed up with 2007′s Candy Cane Murder.
For Lucy Stone, Christmas feels like it’s falling apart. One by one, it seems her family and friends are deserting her, unable to join in her planned Christmas festivities. Then a local boy, Nemo, is abducted putting even more of a damper on Lucy’s Christmas.
Nemo and his ‘on the fringe’ parents aren’t strangers to Lucy. So naturally, she’s drawn into locating the boy, and reuniting him with his parents for Christmas. Fortunately, unlike the real world, we can expect a relatively happy ending in this seasonal story. Although the explanation behind the unusual behavior of Lucy’s boss, Ted—upon learning of the kidnapping—is a reminder of less happy circumstances.
Considering this is a novella, I wasn’t necessarily expecting a murder. The kidnapping alone could have sufficed. So it was a surprise when one did occur, complicating Lucy’s investigation. Nemo’s grandfather is the wealthy CEO of Wilberforce Industries. Thus, Lucy suspects ransom is involved.
I mostly enjoyed this story. At least, up until the deus ex machina ending. I’m not a big fan of women in jeopardy scenarios that tend to cap off many a female amateur sleuth story. This one’s ending is a bit more muddled than most. Although enough of it is explained after the fact.
Still, I thought Lucy, a reporter for her local Pennysaver, was a likeable detective. The series is set in Maine and is geographically relatable for me. Her description of traffic on I-95 was very spot on. I did find that there were a number of characters, who appeared to be series regulars, that I found confusing to keep track of, but this didn’t really interfere with the main kidnapping/murder story line.
Overall, the Gingerbread Cookie Murder novellas were a quick and entertaining diversion. A great way to get in the holiday spirit by reading a cozy mystery, and an excellent opportunity to sample new authors.