When you grow up on a Christmas tree farm called Reindeer Games, in a town called Mistletoe, Maine, you learn three things. One: Holiday spirit is what you make of it. Two: It’s always a good time for snickerdoodles. Three: Family is everything. And in Mistletoe, everyone is family.
So, you can imagine my shock when I moved home last week to recover from a broken heart and discovered the body of our town’s historical society president, Margaret Fenwick, in a sleigh on my family farm. I still can’t believe it. I don’t know why a tourist would hurt her, and the killer can’t be one of us. Folks in Mistletoe aren’t violent. We’re not even rude. Competitive maybe. And, sure, the victim was a bit of a pill sometimes, but I don’t think she meant to be, and that’s not the point.
Basically, it’s been a rough few days, but Christmas is right on schedule, and like I said, holiday spirit is what you make of it. The local sheriff has finally allowed our tree farm to reopen, just in time for the Twelve Games of Christmas, so I’ve dressed in my ugliest holiday sweater, kissed Cindy Lou Who, my rescue cat, on her little chipped ear and hustled to The Hearth to make myself useful.
The Hearth is Reindeer Games’ gingerbread house-themed café. It’s where Mom makes and sells her yummiest creations. I love delivering Santa’s cinnamon tea and festive, mouth-watering treats to rosy-cheeked tree shoppers. I also sample the goods and talk with guests. It’s a great way for me to brainstorm ideas for my Christmas-themed jewelry. I melt old glass beads and bottles to make the tiny gum drop earrings and candy cane necklaces. It started as a hobby, but lately the pieces have been selling out at our tree farm gift shop, Holiday Mouse. Just ask Cookie, the shop manager and my very dear friend. Sure, she’s more than twice my age but Cookie is the greatest, and her real name is Delores Cutter, so her name’s pretty cute too. I called her Cookie Cutter for a decade before I realized it was funny.
It’s time for today’s Reindeer Game when my shift ends. Blindfolded sled racing, and I’m a judge. Guests pair into teams of two. One person rides on an old-fashioned sled with a lead attached to the front. The other member pulls the sled – blindfolded. The rider calls out directions while collecting as many stockings as possible from the snow-covered lawn without falling off or causing their blindfolded partner to break their neck. I’ll be there to bust the peekers.
After that, I’m headed to my parents’ home for the night. I don’t sleep at the guest house anymore. Too many threats on my life. Apparently, I ruffled someone’s feathers when I started asking about Mrs. Fenwick’s death, and I can’t afford to be victim number two. I have things to do and goals to accomplish. Like opening my own jewelry store or making my cheating ex-fiancé regret dumping me for a yoga instructor just two weeks before our Christmas Eve wedding. I also wouldn’t mind finding out what really happened to Mrs. Fenwick, but whoever killed her seems to have my number, and I probably shouldn’t take the call.
Okay. I’ve got to run now. I see a potential peeker on the blind sled event. If you’re ever looking for something new to do around the holidays, I hope you’ll consider a trip north to Reindeer Games in Mistletoe, Maine. I will personally serve you up some hot cider and a smile, then tell you the story of how I got justice for Mrs. Fenwick and saved the day.
You can read more about Holly in Twelve Slays of Christmas, the first book in the NEW “Christmas Tree Farm” mystery series.
When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime―exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.
When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him. The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn’t watch out, she’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s jolly series debut.
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Meet the author
Jacqueline Frost is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Jacqueline is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency.
All comments are welcomed.