MRS. CLAUS AND THE SANTALAND SLAYINGS by Liz Ireland
The First Mrs. Claus Mystery
Married life is always an adjustment, but April has an even bigger lifestyle change than most new brides when she marries Nick. Leaving her inn in Oregon she moves to the North Pole upon becoming Mrs. Claus. Things aren't so holly jolly as she learns to deal with her mother in law and everything that's expected of her as the wife of the current Santa. The death of an unpleasant elf leaves April concerned. While no one liked Giblet Hollyberry, it was her husband who had a run in with the elf. Add to the fact that he left their bedroom in the middle of the night and seems to be avoiding her, Alice realizes just how little she truly knows her new husband. Surely, Nick had nothing to do with Giblet's death...but who did?
MRS. CLAUS AND THE SANTALAND SLAYINGS introduces readers to a very different version of Santa Claus and his village. The temperature may be frigid, but the North Pole is a hotbed of resentment, bullying, and drama. This is not a happy sylvan environment with yuletide spirit. It's a place where reindeer are bullies, the Claus family is dysfunctional, and the majority of residents believe the current Santa is a murderer! Thrust in the midst is April, who fits in as well as her name. While she was a competent and efficient innkeeper in Oregon, in the North Pole she's ill able to keep up and many of her projects have disastrous results.
I really enjoyed this darker look at a place that's generally too sugar coated. I appreciate April's doubts and her determination to prove them wrong. I admit, I'm not a huge fan of the current Santa, but he is several steps up from the one in the Rankin/Bass production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, although he does tell April basically to stay home. Probably my favorite character is Quasar. I feel so bad for this misfit who tries so hard.
MRS. CLAUS AND THE SANTALAND SLAYINGS is a darkly comic tale that combines a deftly plotted mystery with a new version of Santa's village. If you're suffering from too much sugary sweetness this holiday season, this book could be the cure!