Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas is Murder by C.S. Challinor

As we approach the holiday season, and the stores are already displaying their Holiday trimmings and music, I think this is a good time for a blog about C.S. Challinor’s, Christmas is Murder, 2008. Challinor is a Florida author, and this was her first book. Her main protagonist is Rex Graves, a barrister. She has since published Murder in the Raw, and Phi Beta Murder is scheduled for publication in March. She is also contracted for yet a fourth book in the Rex Graves mysteries, Dark Side of the Moor.

Christmas is Murder takes place at Swanmere Manor, a Victorian Inn located in the English countryside. Rex Graves has been invited for the Holiday by the owner of the Inn, Dahlia Smithings, a long time friend of the Graves family. Because of the snow Rex barely makes it to the inn from the train station. Soon the Inn is isolated, and the guests begin to die. There is a murderer at the inn.

Occupants are secluded, one of them is a killer, and all of them have something to hide. The plot should sound familiar, Agatha Christies’ And Then There were None. The murder weapons include poison and a candlestick, some of Agatha’s favorite methods of death. Challinor has modernized the plot. Cell phones aren’t working because of the heavy Holiday phone traffic and the Swanmere's isolated location. She also includes a few jabs at George W. Bush.

Challinor keeps the plot light and supplies enough wit to keep the story appealing. With similarities to Agatha Christie whose stories I enjoy, this book made a pleasant diversion.

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