A Killer's Christmas in Wales: A Penny Brannigan Mystery Hardcover – Oct 25 2011
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"Elizabeth J. Duncan’s A Killer’s Christmas in Wales (Minotaur Books), the latest in her Penny Branigan series, is a plum-pudding of a book for those of us who love comfy mysteries."—Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author and Agatha, Barry, Dilys, and Macavity Award winner
"Cozy fans will enjoy this light, quick read (and delight at fellow fictional crime solver Dorothy Martin’s cameo over a quick manicure)."--Library Journal
"Readers who enjoy classic English mysteries will find lots to love about A Killer's Christmas in Wales....Duncan holds the interest of her readers with snappy dialogue and a well-plotted build-up.....Duncan excels at bringing her characters to life. The author's knack for adding just the right amount of backstory for each character is exceptional. A Killer's Christmas in Wales gives off an air of enchantment as Christmas finds this small village in Wales up to its eyeballs in mystery and mayhem."--Mystery Scene Magazine
"A delightfully intriguing, fast-paced cozy, à la Agatha Christie. Penny Brannigan, a type of Miss Marple, just happens to always stumble upon murders....I loved it. With its gorgeous, small-town setting; friendly, interesting characters; and baffling murders, it's a holiday cozy that is sure to please most everyone. A Killer's Christmas in Wales would make a great gift for the cozy lover. Reading it makes me wish I had also indulged myself with Duncan's previous Penny Brannigan mysteries."--Gumshoe
"If a cozy is your cup of tea, then A Killer’s Christmas In Wales should be high on your Christmas shopping list."--Hamilton Spectator
About the Author
Elizabeth J. Duncan is the first Canadian writer to win the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. She has been a finalist for the Agatha and Arthur Ellis Awards. She enjoys spending time each year in North Wales and lives in Toronto with her dog, Dolly. She teaches in the public relations programs at Humber College.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
What I do really like is Penny’s insightful character. Her ability to see what others miss makes her special. Taking one of Penny’s regulars (Evelyn Lloyd) and tying her into the central plot was good. You know both she and Florence aren’t going anywhere as suspects, regardless of the number of red herrings thrown in their direction. The incident in the doorway (which ultimately involved Glynnis and Harry) was too highly telegraphed. Huw was another red herring and too obviously so, perhaps. Good to see the new spa get going and to finally see Penny and Gareth getting off the ground. More fun to come I’m sure.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book takes place in a somewhat exotic locale: in this case a small town in North Wales, complete with thatched cottages, tearooms, and old-fashioned shops decorated for the season. The weather is bitter, with plenty of "icy pellets of sleet," snow, and frost to send shivers up readers' spines. In contrast, the living rooms are warmly lit with candles and gas fireplaces.
Penny Branningan, the amateur sleuth in her fifties, is the engaging, believable owner of the Happy Hands manicure salon. I'd love to meet her the next time I get my nails done. I'd definitely join her Stretch and Sketch Club and scramble over the Welsh hills to find stunning landscapes to paint. The book deftly probes the relationships among various denizens of Llanelen and, of course, the tumult that ensues when an American (!) man suddenly enters their lives. Several of the women are involved in romantic entanglements with men, but the strongest and most interesting relationships seem to be friendships between women, which is refreshing!
The perfect Christmas dinner (I can't get myself to say "lunch") of oven-browned turkey, Brussels sprouts, and roasted potatoes is interrupted by the shocking news that someone has acted on his or her darkest impulse. Sigh...no rest for the local constabulary.
Perhaps what I like best is being able to experience the ordinary details of everyday life, the cups of tea, the buttered scones, the cobbled stones of the town square, the warm sweater to wear under the raincoat, the linoleum on the kitchen floor, all of the minutiae that make it possible to believe in the murder and mayhem!
Elizabeth J. Duncan's "A Killer's Christmas in Wales" was a most pleasant surprise. I found it a delightfully intriguing, fast-paced cozy, à la Agatha Christie. Penny Brannigan, a type of Miss Marple, just happens to always stumble upon murders. She is aided by her best friend and business partner, Victoria Hopkins. However, the focus for most of the novel's first half is placed on a widow, Evelyn Lloyd, and how she is conned by the slimy Harry Saunders. There ensues a tremendous amount of emotional drama. The citizens of Llanelen don't feel much sympathy for Harry upon learning he's been murdered. In fact, it wasn't until the second murder victim is discovered that I wanted the killer apprehended. There are plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep readers guessing.
Llanelen is the type of quiet, friendly, picturesque village in which I would love to live. The landscape is gorgeous, even in winter, and there are historical sites, such as nearby Conwy Castle, which draw the tourists. Penny, who is a longtime transplant from Nova Scotia, Canada, fell in love with the scenery and couldn't leave. She is a member of the Stretch and Sketch Club which travels the countryside, drawing portraits of the natural beauty. The club is at Conwy Castle when Harry Saunders meets his untimely death. Many of the other villagers, including the bamboozled Evelyn Lloyd, were also present.
Penny Brannigan and her friend Victoria Hopkins are kind, hardworking women who are always eager to please. They have been extremely busy preparing to open up their new nail and hair salon--the same one in which a human skeleton was found in the ductwork during renovations. Villagers often seek Penny for good advice. Penny's romantic interest, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Davies, is falling in love with her. Their budding romance counterbalances the disastrous deception that is performed on poor Evelyn. Unfortunately, a thief threatens their holiday cheer as well.
While visiting the rental office of Holly Point Apartments, I told an employee/friend that I was reading "A Killer's Christmas in Wales." She, like myself, loves holiday-themed cozies. I promised I'd inform her as to whether or not I liked it. Well, I'm going to have to say I loved it. With its gorgeous, small-town setting; friendly, interesting characters; and baffling murders, it's a holiday cozy that is sure to please most everyone. "A Killer's Christmas in Wales" would make a great gift for the cozy lover. Reading it makes me wish I had also indulged myself with Duncan's previous Penny Brannigan mysteries: "The Cold Light of Mourning" (The Cold Light of Mourning by Elizabeth J. Duncan) and "A Brush with Death" (A Brush with Death: A Penny Brannigan Mystery (Penny Brannigan Mysteries)).
Joseph B. Hoyos
In this book, Penny's spa is about to open, people are hurrying to get ready for Christmas, and the cold weather can be a challenge. Enter Harry Sanders, a handsome stranger, who catches the eyes of the ladies and is deemed full of romantic potential. No one is more attracted to him than Evelyn Lloyd, one of Penny's clients and the village's former postmistress. But then Harry is murdered and everyone is left to wonder not only who did it, but if Harry was really who and what he claimed to be.
The mystery plot is well-written, but the best part of Duncan's books may be the characters she creates. They are often eccentric -- I love the Reverend and Mrs. Evans and their beloved dog -- difficult, set-in-their ways, and very human. I look forward to each new book in the series not only for the mystery, but for the opportunity to catch up the characters, who seem like old friends.
Mrs. Lloyd is a middle-aged woman who has opened her home to a less fortunate woman, Florence.They have settled into a comfortable routine as more and more maintenance of the home falls to Florence's capable shoulders. Florence is a sensible woman and realizes that her new situation is far better than before so she accepts Mrs. Lloyd's 'graciousness.'
Harry Saunders, from Palm Beach or is it Palm Springs, is making himself rather important in Mrs. Lloyd's life after only one meeting. Florence is concerned but when she tries to discuss the matter, she is told perhaps she is 'jealous.'
Penny attends one of her art sketching events and is shocked when a man falls from the walkways. The man is Harry Saunders and it makes Mrs. Lloyd look suspicious as he is found with her former husband's letter opener in his back!
Penny is asked to help find the truth and trips upon a theft from the village charity. When her brooch is stolen, the pace to find the killer and the thief speeds up.
Many lessons are taught to the villagers and especially Mrs. Lloyd. I shall leave it up to you to discover what they are. A charming Welsh cozy murder mystery.