Book review: The Christmas letter by Kathi Daley

3/5 stars.

This is a cosy mystery. That basically means that a crime happens and someone solves it, but that there’s little to no violence or sex in the story, and they are typically set in small communities. Yes, I looked this up. This is my second cosy mystery, so I’m hardly an expert on the genre. I do like the idea though. I like a nice whodunnit but I don’t have the need for excessive violence or, well, grossness.

This particular cosy mystery is set in a small town in Montana leading up to Christmas, where the local mail woman gets sucked into investigating the death of a local resident whose body she discovers while out on her route.

To be fair, I got roughly what I was expecting out of this. I intend the 3 star rating positively (as pretty much always). It was cute, light and fluffy. At times the writing was a bit stilted and there were a few typos, but overall I enjoyed it. And I would definitely consider reading the next instalment in the series. There’s an overarching backstory that has a cliffhanger at the end of the book, and I found it intriguing enough to want to continue. And the main story is wrapped up satisfactorily, so it’s not like you’re forced to read more books to get the solution to this one. And I totally understand that writers need to do something to keep you hooked for their next book – it’s a tough market out there.

The main characters were interesting enough, though I don’t really feel like we got to know anyone that well. Which was probably due to the fact that it’s a very short book, but also that there were a few too many side characters and I more than once found myself wondering “who is this person again?”. The side characters didn’t have enough of a plot line for them to be justified, so in my opinion it would have worked better if the story was spread over a few main characters.

What made me pick this book over the myriad of other cosy mysteries out there was both the Christmas theme and that it was advertised as a book for animal lovers, and I did very much enjoy the four legged characters in the story as well.

So, as mentioned. this is only the second cosy mystery story I ever read, and maybe this is common in the genre, but it did bother me: Apparently it’s totally acceptable in rural Montana for random non-law-enforcement people to break into a murder victim’s house and go through their stuff and steal their laptop. AND apparently local law enforcement doesn’t find it worth their while to – I don’t know – look through the house of someone who was murdered for clues. I mean I could kind of have gotten on board with the first part if the protagonist desperately needed to clear someone they cared about of the crime and the police weren’t listening to them – but the police was her brother, for crying out loud. And it’s not like he said “I firmly believe x happened and there’s nothing you can say to convince me otherwise. Case closed.” So yeah, that bugged me. It was my main beef with the whole book.

It was also pretty much lacking in suspense. I guess that’s where the “cosy” part of cosy mystery comes in, but what I’d really love is something in between this and the “child molester/animal torturer/sadistic psychopath killer” genre which is what most other modern crime fiction/thriller novels seem to be these days. Something clever and suspenseful that doesn’t make me want to hurl or gouge out my own eyes. So, next year Santa, can I have that please?

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