'Twas the Knife Before Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery, #2)4.5 Stars

Published November 13th 2018 by Crooked Lane Books

It is Christmas time again in Mistletoe, Maine and Holly is getting ready for all the festivities. Not only that, but she is assisting with the renovations to open an inn on the property of the family tree farm known as Reindeer Games. Her best friend Caroline also needs cheering up after her blowup with her “handsy” date is publicized. Trying to cheer her up, Holly invites her to the tree lighting ceremony. When the tree is lit and the huge candy dish is unveiled, there is Derek, dead in the candy bowl with a knife from Caroline’s cupcake shop in him. Of course, she is the main suspect.

Although this is only the second book in the series, I am enjoying it very much. The characters range from smart, independent Holly, Caroline the daughter of the mayor who is always on display and tries to please everyone, to Cookie who loves to bake and has a pet goat named Theodore who she talks to like he is her husband and Evan, a local detective who is Holly’s “friend”. Holly’s parents are a great part of the series, with their protective nature and often being in the right place at the right time. Evan’s sister makes an appearance in this story and it looks like she might stick around for a bit. It gives Holly another friend, confidante and sleuth to work with. The plot for this story was well-paced and developed. I enjoyed watching Holly attempt to solve the mystery, putting herself in the path of the killer. There are some close calls that were quite entertaining, yet dangerous. There are a couple of side stories rounding out the book that all made it an enjoyable read. I love the setting of the town that loves and celebrates Christmas is a wonderful way, of course, what else would you expect from a town called Mistletoe. The murderer was on and off my radar as the story progressed, yet the ending was unexpected. Throw in a couple of Christmas miracles and you have a great holiday story. The publisher, Crooked Lane Books, generously provided me with a copy of this book upon my request. The rating, opinions and ideas shared are my own.

About the Book (From Goodreads): It’s out of the cupcake tin, into the fire for Holly White’s best friend, Caroline. Can Holly clear Caroline’s name in time to go caroling?

When a body turns up in the dumpster behind Caroline’s Cupcakes, Holly White is horrified to learn her best friend Caroline is the main suspect. Everyone in town, including Mistletoe, Maine’s sheriff, saw Caroline fighting with the victim on the night of his death. Worse, Caroline’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, a custom-designed marble rolling pin.

Now, just ten days before Christmas, Holly’s up to her jingle bells in holiday shenanigans and in desperate need of a miracle. Juggling extra shifts at her family’s Christmas tree farm and making enough gingerbread jewelry to satisfy the crowd is already more than she can handle—and now she has to find time to clear her best friend of murder. Add in her budding relationship with the sheriff, and run-ins with an ex-fiancé looking to make amends, and Holly’s ready to fly south until springtime.

But her Sherpa-lined mittens come off when Caroline is taken into custody. Can Holly wrap up the case in time for Christmas…even after she gains the true killer’s attention? Find out in ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s second pine-scented Christmas Tree Farm mystery.

Julie Anne LindseyAbout the Author: Jacqueline Frost is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Jacqueline is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sisters in Crime (SinC).

Jacquline Frost also writes under the names Julie Chase, and Julie Anne Lindsey.