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Christmas Crumble by M.C. Beaton
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
St. Martin's Kindle Edition  ISBN/ITEM#: B008PBYTM6
Date: 28 August 2012

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Agatha Raisin, still dreaming of the perfect Christmas, decides to invite six elderly residents (crumbles) to her home for a holiday feast. Unfortunately, Len Leech, a lecherous, filthy codger, dies when dessert is served. Freda Pinch, who despises Agatha, accuses her host of killing him. Later, Freda is found beaten. Agatha is determined to clear her name and discover the identity of Freda’s attacker.

M.C. Beaton's Christmas Crumble is one of the best electronic short stories I've ever downloaded from Amazon. I sat in a Barnes & Noble café and read it on my Apple iPhone while sipping on a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. It was delicious--both the drink and the short story. Other customers must have thought I was crazy when they heard me laugh out loud. Len Leech's sexual shenanigans were a riot. Most electronic short stories I've read from other best-selling authors were not nearly as entertaining as their novels. They were merely promotional tools for their next novels soon to be released in hardback.

Christmas Crumble is a fine example of the cozy mysteries that M.C. Beaton writes. It was published to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of her best-selling Agatha Raisin series. In fact, it was printed inside a special edition of her first Agatha Raisin novel, The Quiche of Death, which I recently read and found highly enjoyable. Both The Quiche of Death and Christmas Crumble involve lecherous old men and deadly cuisine. If you have never read an Agatha Raisin novel, then I highly recommend downloading Christmas Crumble in order to learn if her novels are your cup of tea. They are extremely hilarious and soap opera-like.

In my opinion, Christmas Crumble is definitely worth the small price I paid for its download. New and old fans will want to read it. Many of the characters that have been in this series from the first novel make guest appearances throughout this short story. I am partial to mysteries that are set during the holidays; this one manages to convey the true spirit of Christmas (taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves) while satisfying the sweet tooth of readers who love a good mystery.

Also published by Macmillan is David Handler's The Snow White Christmas Cookie, which is the latest installment in the Mitch Berger and Des Mitry mystery series. A grinch is stealing and killing in the cozy town of historic Dorset, Connecticut. Rife with humor, romance and suspense, this holiday thriller is also highly recommended.

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