Book Critique - Candy Canes of Christmas Past (Lucy Stone Series #13.5)

For review of all books in the anthology: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: The simple flow of the plot, keeping it true to reality, charming family dynamics, gentle humor and subtle sarcasm at oneself keeps the reader intrigued and interested.

Candy Canes of Christmas Past is the third and final novella in the anthology Candy Cane Murder by Leslie Meier published in October of 2007, as part of her Lucy Stone series. She co-authored this anthology with Joanne Fluke and Laura Levine.

Lucy Stone happily settled in the remote town of Tinker's Cove in Maine with her husband Bill and children. A chance mention of her son about their first Christmas in Tinker's Cove almost 35 years ago, takes Lucy on a trip down the memory lane when she had solved a mysterious candy cane and a murder that had occurred decades ago.

Author Leslie takes the reader into a life set some 35 years ago when this book was written. Some of things jogged a lot of memories in my brain, making it a true trip for the readers as well.

Leslie shows the readers the simple dynamics of a young family settling during hard times, yet finding simple joy in doing daily things. Of course, there are times when both Lucy and Bill find at each other's throats, at times when Lucy almost gives up making effort to pursue Bill's dreams, or times when she gets tired of taking care of an active 2 yr old while being 6 months pregnant. 

Leslie gives us romance and mystery, but without the rosy glasses, green grass and lavender perfume. She shows it to readers as she sees it, in this case, as she imagines and writes it. That way of delivery of the plot kept charming me as a reader.

She also has her character Lucy finding humor and mocking at herself in good way, even though her husband was struggling to get their house together or that there was no stove to cook food for them. That free-spirit and attitude to take life in a stride actually attracted me more to Lucy Stone.

Friendships born, Love realized, Families endured, and Mystery solved - I must say, Leslie found a successful recipe for Lucy Stone series. However, not reading her other books, I presume this is the first mystery that Lucy solves, forming a prequel to the series. 

Leslie, just like other authors throws references to TV shows, Music Movies and Books all through the plot, connecting them to the plot still - Books (A Gift of Magi, Night Before Christmas); TV Show (Upstairs, Downstairs; Mr. Rogers Neighborhood); Music (Donna Summers, Helen Reddy and BeeGees Songs). Oh, she does give us some recipes too at the end - Christmas Spritz Cookies and Sand Tarts.

The simple flow of the plot, keeping it true to reality, charming family dynamics, gentle humor and subtle sarcasm at oneself keeps the reader intrigued and interested. I, for one, have put the series on my "to read" list. And for all those of you, who love cozy mysteries, this is a definite pick.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Some of the books Lucy reads to spend her time while coping living in a new town - The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey; 

b. One of the suspects from past, Katherine Kaiser, Miss Tilley's father's secretary, left town and came back 6 months later, rumored to have given birth to a child, a love-child between Katherine and Miss Tilley's Father. A plot for a future book, or perhaps already had been part of a plot in the thirteen books already printed prior to this book.

c. Lucy recites a nursery rhyme, Pease Porridge Hot, almost mocking at her own life. On flip-side she also sings "I am a woman, hear me roar" to her husband proving her strength in so few words. 

d. The local museum of Tinker's Cove acquires a mummy and Lucy wonders how did they get it. Again another plot for a future book, or already done perhaps.

e. Lucy doesn’t get to solve how a glass candy cane had landed under the arm of Miss Tilley's mother when she fell from the stairs. Again another plot for a future book, perhaps. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Lucy Stone's family includes - her husband Bill; oldest son Toby, his wife Molly and infant Patrick; three daughters Elizabeth, Sarah and Zoe.

b. Tinker's Cove Residents - Miss Tilley, the Librarian; Sue Finch & her husband Sid and daughter; Miller Sisters (Emily and Ellie); Rachel & Bob Goodman, their son Richie; Wilf Lundgren, the postman; Sherman Cobb, one of the local lawyers; Fred Rumford; 

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 407, Line 9, it should be "…shivered at bit in her flannel…"


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