Friday, September 2, 2022

A delicious Christmas mystery set in a spooky isolated old house with a group of estranged cousins will certainly get us all in the mood for the holiday season. The Christmas Murder Game brings together the cousins of the Armitage family to play a game to see who will inherit the old mansion. Every day from Christmas day to the 6th of January, a clue will be revealed. The 6 cousins who are in the running to inherit must decipher the clues and be the first one to find one of 12 keys hidden around the house. Only one of these keys will unlock a secret door, and the cousin holding the lucky key will be the winner.

The cousins are: Lily, whose mother Mariana died in the house's outdoor maze when Lily was a child (suicide or murder?); Sara and Gray, who are the children of Mariana's sister Liliana, who took in Lily after the death of her mother; and siblings Ronnie, Tom and Rachel, whose parents were killed in a car accident when they were young.  Aunt Liliana has recently died under possibly mysterious circumstances, but before her death she devised the Christmas inheritance game for the next generation. The six cousins are summoned to Endgame House to play the game, and the housekeeper/cook, Mrs. Castle, will be left with them. They must surrender their cell phones and the Wi-Fi is disabled to keep anyone from possibly cheating during the challenges (which is odd since all the challenges refer to the house or family history, so it's unclear how the Internet could help). When a snowstorm traps everyone in the house, blocks the roads with downed trees, and knocks out the single landline at the house, the participants are well and truly trapped. Of course, then the bodies start to pile up . . .

I enjoyed the story and the setting, but the main character, Lily, was a bit of a letdown. She really doesn't like the house, since she was living there when her mother died, and since the death occurred in the maze, she really, REALLY doesn't like the maze. We know this because at least once on every page, she tells us.  Lily is a costume designer/dressmaker, and when she's not whining on about the maze, she's going on about her amazing corsets that she wears every day (despite being pregnant and starting to show) or rubbing her "tummy." She's always tired, or upset, and claims to have no interest in inheriting the house, although she races to solve every clue first so that everyone will know how clever she is. Annoying character aside, the story would make an interesting and atmospheric film!

I received a copy of The Christmas Murder Game from NetGalley


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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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