My rating: 3+ of 5 stars to Laura Levine‘s The Dangers of Candy Canes, a short Christmas novella in the Jaine Austen mystery series. I haven’t read anything by this author before and stumbled across this in a collection of stories about candy cane killers; it was fun and gave me an interest in reading more in this series.
Jaine Austen (no relation) is an unlicensed, sort of part-time, freelance private investigator in LA, and she is preparing for her annual holiday trip back home to Florida to visit family, which she is very unhappy about. Her friend Seymour calls and asks for help when he’s been accused of murder, by way of someone falling off a roof Seymour just finished roofing. Jaine sets about asking all the neighbors and learns the victim was a nasty man with tons of enemies, and someone likely damaged the finished roof on purpose to cause the victim to fall off. Jaine finds several possibilities and as she settles on who she thinks the killer is, she realizes she fell right into the real killer’s trap. But she narrowly survives and ends up having a better trip to Florida.
1. Cast of characters were very clear, and each had a motive. I enjoyed the guessing game but still picked the wrong killer. Jaine’s humor is great. She sometimes talks directly to the readers. Also to herself. And she talks to her cat.
2. The sub-plot side-stories were very fun. Prozac the cat and Angel the demon child make for many hilarious moments and good comic relief.
Too short to really find anything that needed improvement or I didn’t like. It received a 3 as it was a very basic story and didn’t have tremendous complexity. If it were longer, and added a few more scenes, it would have been stronger.
A definite series to give a shot to… especially when I need to laugh.