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The Merchant of Menace [Hardcover]

Jill Churchill
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 1998 Jane Jeffry Mysteries
Just in time for Christmas, this award-winning author has her heroine embroiled in the mystery of who killed Santa Claus.

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From Amazon

Quintessential mom in tennis shoes Jane Jeffrey is once again thrust into a murder investigation, but this time the murderer is very close to home indeed. In The Merchant of Menace, the 10th of the series by Jill Churchill, Jane finds herself in the midst of the Christmas rush and hosting two celebrations back-to-back: neighborhood caroling party one evening and a cookie exchange the following day. The two gatherings are meant to bring the community together, but when a TV reporter is found dead during the singing, it becomes obvious that at least one of the neighbors is harboring something besides goodwill towards men. As Jane and her coconspirator Shelly explore just who might have reason to shove someone off a roof, their sleepy suburb (Chicago is the ostensible nearby city, but the setting could be anywhere there is snow in December) suddenly steams with secrets.

Churchill has done well with this cozy series in which each title is a play on words of a more illustrious piece of literature. The Merchant of Menace fits into the mold: a witty and gentle dose of murder and mayhem coupled with a wry appreciation for the terrors of suburban parenting (teaching teenagers to drive, helping with the homework, meeting the prospective in-laws) and middle-aged romance. The travails of Shylock are perhaps too oppressive for most Christmas readers, but The Merchant of Menace is certainly suitable for passing around with the Christmas cookies and holiday punch. --K. Crouch

From Publishers Weekly

It's the Yuletide season, and widowed Jane Jeffry has her hands full in this 10th installment of the punningly titled series (Fear of Frying, 1997). Not only is Jane hosting two neighborhood parties, but she will meet the mother of her significant other, police detective Mel, for the first time. Adding to the holiday confusion, the Johnsons move in next door and go overboard lighting up their entire house with garish Christmas decorations. Trying to be helpful, one of Jane's friends invites intrusive and often inaccurate TV reporter Lance King to Jane's caroling party. Appalled, Jane makes the woman rescind the invitationAbut to no avail as Lance shows up anyway, intimating that he has a shocking disclosure to make about one of Jane's neighbors. Before he can spill the beans, however, Lance is pushed to his death from the Johnsons roof. Jane and her best friend, Shelley, much to Mel's dismay, decide to find out who had a secret so dire that they'd murder Lance to keep it quiet. The friends unearth a slew of suspects, and all the while, Jane dodges the potential disasters associated with hosting holiday events and entertaining a potential mother-in-law while keeping track of her own three children. In the end, levelheaded, redoubtable Jane weathers the storms, identifies the killer and manages to have a happy holiday season as well. This is standard, lighthearted caper fare from the ableAand very popularAChurchill. Agent, Faith Childs.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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5.0 out of 5 stars One of her best! March 18 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jill Churchill wins again, with another suburban mystery. In Merchant of Menace, the mystery arises out of, and fits seamlessly into, Jane Jeffry's suburban milieu. Who did kill the sleazy tv expose reporter? And why? And what's up with the hillbillies who moved in next door and their wonderfully tacky Christmas decorations? The neighborhood events, the recurring characters, including some neighbors we've seen before, like the inimitable Susie, even Jane's potential mother-in-law, all ring hilariously true. I'd love to have seen more of Mel's mother, though. Seems like there should have been a denouement to the simmering conflict between them. Maybe we'll see her again some day? (Some book?)
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is the second book from this author Feb. 18 2002
By Ellen
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I just love her books- they are a fast read and I thoroughly enjoy them. Jane Jeffry's great and I love her friend Shelly Nowak. I read this one in three days. I am excited to read her others.
Pick one up today!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual neighborhood Jan. 15 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In this and other books in the series, Jane Jeffry seems to have an unusually high number of oddball neighbors. The series, at times, is like a situation comedy run amok. While contending with the usual household problems, this widowed mother of three teenagers (plus a large yellow dog and two cats) must deal with the Christmas crunch, neighborhood activities, an unwelcome mother-in-law, the visiting mother of her significant other, new neighbors who appear to be obnoxious rich white trash, and a sleazy investigative reporter who is inserting himself into the neighborhood activities.
When the sleazeball is skewered on the antlers of a plastic reindeer, fingers point in many directions. Who was he investigating, and where are his notes? Skeletons begin emerging from various closets. The "clue" that leads Jane to the killer is a bit of a stretch.
Jane Jeffry appears to lead a chaste life. The novels in the series are written for a general audience with some violence, little sex, and no bad language. There are some minor editing problems typical of publishers pushing books into print (whatever happened to proofreaders?).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun-filled holiday mystery. Nov. 8 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a fun book to read during the Christmas season (but would be just as enjoyable year-round.) The holidays are busy for suburban mom and part-time sleuth, Jane Jeffrey. She's hosting two neighborhood parties, back-to-back, and trying to get her house and family ready for Christmas. Of course, just like Jessica Fletcher, someone around her always turns up dead. This time is a muck-raking reporter who falls off her neighbors' roof. Added to the mix is her detective boyfriend's mother who's "temporarily" staying with her. Luckily she has her good friend Shelly to help out with keeping her sane and with her sleuthing. This one will keep you guessing and laughing until the final pages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! July 6 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jane and Shelley always work better for me when they're at home, with the kids, and the neighbors, and the daily disasters. This time, Jane is frantically trying to pull together not one, but two holiday parties, keep the kids on an even keel, and deal with an unexpected house guest in the form of Mel's mother, dumped on her without warning. Add to that a muck-raking, or muck-inventing local TV reporter, who falls, or is pushed? to his death from the roof next door, a pair of "hillbillies" with the worst taste in the world, and you have another great Jane Jeffry adventure. Particularly touching was Jane's evening making ornaments with her teenage daughter, a sweet lull in the usual mom-daughter running battle. Don't miss this one!
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