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    Must Read for the Holidays!

    No matter who you are, something dramatic always seems to happen during the holidays. Whether is be family drama or some sort of catastrophe, it seems like the universe waits until that exact moment when you have deemed it The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, to wreak havoc. In her new release Christmas is Murder the Mckinley Series Book Sever, Carolyn Arnold plays on that exact theme by placing her characters right in the middle of such a time as this. The Mckinleys are always finding themselves around crime. At this point in the game, it appears as if crime has started to follow them, but that is just plain superstition. However when Sean and Sarah’s seemingly perfect Christmas season is interrupted by an untimely and sudden death, they cannot help but follow their instincts, which beg of them to investigate whether or not there was foul play at hand. Throughout the novella, Arnold takes the Mckinley’s through a myriad of scenarios, with just enough twists and turns that leave us totally unsuspecting of what really happened until we arrive at the finale of her work. When I began reading this book, I did not realize it was part of a series, so when things seemed like they were being left unexplained or that the book reached farther that the plot it contained, I looked it up to see if it was in fact part of a series. Hoping that it was, I was relieved to discover that it is the seventh book in the Mckinley series, even though the book stands on its own just fine as well. It reminded me of an episode of shows like Law and Order or House, were you can watch one episode and understand the main plot of the show, which is the case or the medical happenings respectively, but perhaps miss some of the secondary plot which has more to do with the personal lives of the characters involved with the show. That is much like this series. The case itself was capsulized within the pages of this Novella, but there were undertones in the lives of the Mckinleys that I knew I was missing the greater meaning of because I had jumped in mid series. This has only encouraged me to go back and read the books that preceded this one and has spurred my interest in this series. Arnold does a wonderful job of not only shaping a mystery that is unpredictable which is refreshing on its own, but making sure that the book as a whole is not weighted down with too much seriousness. Murder carries a lot of weight, so she infused her character’s humanity and personalities with the ability to see the humor in things and to laugh about their circumstances and the sometimes very sticky situations they find themselves in. It would have been very easy for her to weigh down her characters with more brooding and an all work no play nature, but the simply idea that she allows her characters to play and work at the same time was a lovely juxtaposition that you don’t see very often in crime series these days. They are all either a farce, playing on the incredulous nature of crime drama, or only serious and stay only in the darkness of the genre. I very much enjoyed that she brought a light human nature to this plot, for it made it and the entire process of reading it so much more enjoyable, because you know you are reading something special and unique. It is rare to find an author who can infuse light in the dark, and Arnold does just that. The plot was very interesting and I never felt like the text was dragging. The book did not get off to a slow start with too much back story, but instead jumped right into the meat of the case, and the pace was set high and maintained from that point on. Barring a few editorial typos, this book was a joy to read (I did receive an advanced copy that was subject to editorial changes, so these mistakes may have been corrected, however I can only comment on the material I have seen). I give it 4 out of 5 morals, and congratulate Arnold on yet another book well done, and for making a Mckinley series fan of a reader who is seldom swayed so easily to invest in a long standing series. I highly recommend this to be put on your holiday Must Read list.

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