The Twelve Murders Of Christmas: A Toni Day Mystery
by Jane Bennett Munro
iUniverse


"For a nanosecond I was paralyzed with fear. All I could think was Oh my freakin’ Lord, I am so dead."

A traditional Christmas song takes on new meaning in this entertaining mystery. The holiday ditty has its lyrics rewritten by an apparent serial killer who sends cryptic verses to an Idaho pathologist via Christmas cards with gruesome illustrations. The cards parallel deaths as questions mount. Who's sending them and why? Can the killer be unmasked before the twelve days of Christmas turn into twelve bodies? And will it end then, or not?

Toni, the pathologist, is a woman frequently involved in murder and mayhem that is not exclusively restricted to the autopsy table. She has a son-in-law on the Twin Falls police force and a father-in-law who is formerly of Scotland Yard. As those and other members of her family gather for Christmas gaiety, she is neck-deep in a case that could well be as physically dangerous as it is mentally complex. There's a good chance that the individual creating the cards and the corpses associated with them may well be out to make Toni and her husband victims as well. Add the fact that there may indeed be more than one murderer, and the tension starts to ramp up exponentially.

Author Munro does a first-rate job of building complexity as her story moves forward. She includes interesting McGuffins and red herrings along the way that keep readers guessing as to who's really involved and who isn't. Her protagonist, Toni, is a smart, savvy woman who comes across as intelligent and admirable. Munro wisely imbues her with enough realistic characteristics to make her humanly vulnerable as well. This is but one in a series of novels highlighting the plucky pathologist's adventures. It can definitely add a pinch of suspenseful spice to recipes for holiday reading.

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