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Murder Fir Christmas by Joyce and Jim Lavene

6595_214181595580970_1652527665401568809_n.jpgLeave it to the Lavenes to catch your attention from the very beginning. Bonnie Tuttle reluctantly returns to her hometown of Christmas Tree Valley after being gone ten years. Strange things start occurring immediately. While driving into Sweet Pepper, she is stopped by an older Cherokee man standing in the road who says he’s been expecting her. What an unusual welcome, right? Well, it doesn’t let up from that point as Bonnie moves home to take care of her ailing mom and assumes the job as Sweet Pepper’s new Wild Life Agent.

No time is wasted on meeting the heads of the town as she is involved in helping to solve the mystery of a fire set at Sweet Pepper Lake where two men are found shot dead. After rescuing an injured wolf pup, Matthew Brown Elk, a Cherokee resident of Christmas Tree Valley, offers to help her in healing it. A bond not only starts to form between her and the wolf pup, but also between her and Matthew. As more visions come to her via the strange Cherokee man, she soon learns why she has always been able to communicate with animals so well.

I love the different elements in this book from the visions, to a woman’s coming home to face her past and accepting her new future. It’s beautifully written as a story of hope and purpose. We all wonder through life asking why we are here. Bonnie was doing the same for so long and left her childhood home looking for the answers. Sometimes the answer was right in front of us.

I hope the story of Bonnie Tuttle will continue in a future book because I really loved reading about her and all she had gone though. Murder Fir Christmas was full of dynamic, strong and one of a kind characters. What a great book for the holidays!

 

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Murder Most Howl by Krista Davis

11201879_202495940082869_5770471607898029826_nI want to start by saying that I want to live in Wagtail. I could leave it at that, but then this wouldn’t be a book review. So, since I want you to know why I want to live in Wagtail, I should tell you all about my adventures at Murder Most Howl. Technically I wasn’t there, but the writing made it difficult for me to not feel like I wasn’t. Did I mention I want to live in Wagtail?

With Cibbl, my review sidekick, I was instantly lost in Krista Davis’ world that she penned. Wagtail is a fictitious town in the mountains of West Virginia where dogs and cats roam free with their owners in all the stores, restaurants and homes. It’s like a pet utopia. Two shop owners in town, Holly and Val, are holding a murder mystery retreat called, “Murder Most Howl” involving visitors searching for clues as to who killed the deceased person in the game, Baron Von Rottweiler. On the night of the announcement when the clues and maps are given out, they find a real 12241261_202150890117374_2452481148251793604_ndead person sitting on a snow-covered bench outside The Sugar Maple Inn. Now, the entire town is under investigation and they have a real murder to figure out. As the game of Murder Most Howl continues the clues to the game start to sound like the life of a local town member. Someone also plants false clues to spread gossip about its residents both new and old. This doesn’t stop some from trying to solve the real murder, however. As someone with unknown intentions spread lies, truths and sets a long-time resident of Wagtail up for the murder, Holly Miller tries to figure out what went wrong and if someone turned “Murder Most Howl” into a real life and death game.

“Murder Most Howl” is evenly sprinkled with good plot twists, fun characters and a new take (for me) on main characters as many of the animals play a big role in the resolution of the story. I love the small town feel of how the different shop owners interact and how Holly grows as a character. She starts off unsure of herself running the inn, to taking charge and overcoming emotional obstacles. The great thing about “Murder Most Howl” is how nicely woven the story is. No one acts over the top and the characters seem believable.

12141552_190806444585152_5723733413777219869_nOne does not need to have read the prior books to enjoy Ms. Davis’ latest. This was the first I read in the series and I loved the book even not knowing the backgrounds of the characters. She lets you know who they are without taking a long time to do so. I was never lost when it came to who was who. Plus, if you do get confused, she has the character’s names at the front of the book, how they were participants in the town as well as what pets went with who. Honestly, those animals were all over the town. That was the only part I sometimes couldn’t keep straight. Dogs and cats are everywhere! And the best surprise after you finish the book is a bunch of recipes you’ve read about in the book. There are recipes for both people and animals.

 

I will be going back to read the other two books in the “A Paws & Claws Mystery” series. Now, if Krista could please get on with making Wagtail real, Cibbl and I would like to book a room at The Sugar Maple Inn for the weekend.

 

*I was sent “Murder Most Howl” by Krista Davis in exchange for an honest review*