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Saturday, December 29, 2018

#NetGalley Book Review: Slay Bells: A Christmas Village Mystery by T.C. Wescott

This is a solid cozy mystery with some fun characters and mysterious deaths to unravel.
Slay Bells: A Christmas Village Mystery
by T.C. Wescott
Slay Bells (A Christmas Village Mystery Book 1) by [Wescott, T.C.]
File Size: 3376 KB
Print Length: 230 pages
Publisher: Better Mousetrap Books (November 23, 2018)
Genre: Christmas, Cozy Mystery
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0

“If there is a list of perfect books for Christmas, then I am pretty sure Slay Bells is on that list.” – GOODREADS review
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the village, the night settled in over swirling-smoke chimneys.
The air was alive with pine and with holly, with sugar and cinnamon and cider, by golly!
Along snowy lanes and through shadows it crept, past windows behind which each villager slept,
Where sleeping dogs lie and cats rest a’purring—
Tonight, in Christmas Village, a killer is stirring.
Nestled betwixt an opulent garden with meandering footpaths and an ancient grove of plum trees, Plum Cottage Inn is plum-full with lodgers in for the Christmas Festival. There are no vacancies...until one by one the lodgers start dying in inexplicable ways.
Short as a stump, round as a wheel, sweet as a candy cane, and a sharp as a whip, Maribel Claus loves a good puzzle. Can Mrs. Claus solve the mystery and save Christmas?
If you enjoy the classic Golden Age small village and English country house mysteries as well as lighthearted cozies of our present day, you will fall in love with the Christmas Village Mysteries. And your love affair starts right here with Slay Bells.
Slay Bells includes diagrams of the murder scenes and a one-of-a-kind BOOK GROUP CHALLENGE.

Plum Cottage Inn is housing a traveling troupe that is in town as entertainment for the Christmas Festival. The troupe includes a magician, a strongman, a juggler who walks on stilts, an acrobat and a fortuneteller. The troupe leader is a tyrannical, complaining man who is assisted by the troupe’s efficient arranger. The Inn’s proprietor, Rose, is happy to share local myths and folklore and is busy with holiday preparations until she injures her ankle. Fortunately, her very good friend, Maribel Claus, steps in to help. That puts Maribel, who is a keen observer and lover of puzzles, in the middle of the mystery when death comes knocking.

The first victim is the unpleasant troupe leader who has no shortage of people who would be glad to see him gone. He is discovered on the top of a small hill outside of the Inn with no evidence of footprints or obvious murder weapon. This creates the first puzzle that pulls Maribel in to help the local sheriff to his frustration and reluctant acknowledgment of her skills. The investigation is serious in its efforts even as they try to ignore a local character who insists that monsters of folklore have descended on the town.

Several of the troupe members are easily suspected but the authorities are struggling to put together definitive evidence. A second murder occurs leaving another puzzling path as there are no footsteps leading to the spot of death other than the victim and then the footprints leading away from the body don’t match any of the suspects.

I enjoyed the cozy writing style although the beginning seemed a little busy and full of characters. As the book proceeds the characters are sorted out with the help of the investigation. It was fun to have the clues and theories bounced around committee consisting of the sheriff, his deputy, the town mayor, a local professor and, of course, Maribel. This is a solid cozy mystery and I recommend to fans of the genre.

Source: 2018 NetGalley. This qualifies for NetGalley Challenge.


  1. You have to love the catchy titles cozy mysteries come up with! Sounds like a fun read...thanks for sharing!

  2. Good review. I have added this title to my list to get, since I enjoy reading cozy mysteries. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about this story with us.

  3. Martha, thank you so much for reading the book and saying such kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Just so you know, I've today uploaded another book to NetGalley, this being the second in my Running Store Mystery series, called Running from Arrows. It's a cozy mystery with a Valentine's Day motif. A lot of fun to write! Thanks again.


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