education pathways

Home » novella

Category Archives: novella

Christmas Card Murder–three novellas

Christmas Card Murder

by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Peggy Ehrhart

The book Christmas Card Murder is a compilation of three novellas. The first one is also called Christmas Card Murder, and it’s written by Leslie Meier. It is an acceptable cozy mystery about a writer for a small town Maine newspaper who discovers a Christmas card with a hateful, mysterious message during a remodeling project. When a snowstorm brings more than snow, the main character Lucy finds herself in danger. With themes regarding the effectiveness of our criminal justice system, DNA evidence, and reasonable doubt, this mystery’s last few chapters have a very serious tone and the conclusion provides mixed outcomes for the characters. This story is more thought provoking than fun.

Death of a Christmas Carol
As I began the second novella, I sensed a theme. Also set in Maine, Death of a Christmas Carol’s plot is centered around a Christmas card. This card is addressed to three friends and includes a threat. The sender of the card is a flirtatious woman who has had conflicts with all the ladies. Is the card a joke or is someone’s husband unfaithful? Lee Hollis’ tale is about female bonding, marital happiness, and murder. Embedded are some short stories by the main character who is a writer for the local newspaper and some of her favorite seasonal recipes.

Death of a Christmas Card Crafter
Karma Karling was Penny’s favorite teacher in high school. A talented artist, she created a new card each Christmas season based on the “12 Days of Christmas.” Clearly the last in the series, this year’s card features 12 drummer boys—but there are thirteen depicted. Could that be a clue to Karma’s untimely death? Bettina and Pamela, both knitters, make it their business to discover the murderer while absolving a fellow knitter.

All of the novellas in this trio appear to be part of each author’s series. I enjoyed this novella the most—partly because, of the three, this is the only series that I have been following. I credit this one as having the best descriptive passages, the most interesting plot, and a surprise ending that was truly unexpected.

All of these novellas work as a stand-alone, but the author of Death of a Christmas Card Crafter excels in pulling the reader into the story while giving back information that makes the characters more appealing. Peggy Ehrhart’s book includes directions for knitting doll clothes using only the knit stitch and recipes for an intensely chocolate cake and a quick bread featuring dried fruits.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Publication: October 27, 2020—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

Christmas Card Murder—She knew that kids frequently didn’t realize that their actions had consequences; this was something most people learned the hard way.

Death of a Christmas Carol—“I got him to talk by threatening not to make him dinner. He’d make a terrible spy. He’d give up the nation’s secrets for a box of Hamburger Helper.”

Death of a Christmas Card Crafter—The spicy pine scent carried all the way to the sidewalk, and its evocation of a season that should be happy seemed an incongruous contradiction to the crime-scene tape and the uniformed officer.

Penned In–Idaho Halloween tale

Penned In

by Lynn Cahoon

Penned In is a novella in Lynn Cahoon’s excellent Farm-to-Fork series which does not typically contain paranormal references. This novella has a paranormal twist to it, however. The story takes place on the night before Halloween at the old Idaho Penitentiary where the County Seat Restaurant’s staff goes for a team building exercise. The book contains a little history which is interesting. As a novella, neither the plot nor character development are extensive.

My enjoyment of the novella was probably colored by my dislike of both paranormal novels and team building exercises. As a diversion, it was satisfactory, but not something I would ever reread. If you are a fan of locked room mysteries, you would probably enjoy this little mystery!

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. Would work as a standalone.

  2. Includes paranormal, but is not scary.

  3. Locked room mystery.

  4. Includes a recipe for chocolate chip muffins.

Publication:   August 31, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Anyone that mean, he has to be the killer. The other people are nice. Tad doesn’t have a nice bone in his body, as my grandmother would say.” Hope leaned back in her chair and folded her arms. No one was going to mess with her logic.

“They said I wasn’t smart enough to sell computers. Hell, I could sell ice to Eskimos.”

It was all just posturing for him. He didn’t want her but he wasn’t sure he wanted her to be happy with another guy.”

Botched Butterscotch–discord in Harvest, Ohio

Botched Butterscotch

by Amanda Flower

If you’re looking for a novella that also…

  • is a cozy mystery
  • doesn’t involve murder
  • combines Amish and Englisch
  • focuses on women who need a stepping stone in addiction recovery
  • throws in some red herrings despite its brevity
  • affords an excellent distraction from current problems
  • and is all-round good fun,

then read Botched Butterscotch where you find some of your favorite characters from Amanda Flower’s Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series. There’s Bailey King, a chocolatier known locally as a crime solver, Juliet, Bailey’s probable future mother-in-law, Juliet’s potbellied pig Jethro, and Margot, the local super community organizer. You will meet Bailey’s parents visiting from New England and attend a fund-raising Mother’s Day tea. Mostly, you will have fun solving the mystery and enjoying the humor in this great little novella. 

I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: Almost too short to be a standalone because so much of the pleasure is derived from character interaction

Publication:   April 28, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Busy hands keep worries at bay—that’s something I tell the women at my farm. I believe that’s why the farm’s rehabilitation model works so well. When you are busy caring for something else, you are able to hold back self-defeating thoughts. It’s not foolproof, but it helps.”

Sundays had become my days to rest and recharge, and I was surprised to find that I was getting the same amount of work done every week regardless. Maybe there was something to this whole resting thing. I wished that I had known about it sooner—I might have been happier in New York if I had.

Of course, as a chocolatier, I couldn’t understand anyone not liking chocolate. Chocolate was one of the five major food groups—or at least it would have been if I had been in charge of making the chart.

%d bloggers like this: