Cecily Sinclair Baxter loves just about everything involving Christmas - decorating the Pennyfoot, celebrating with family and friends, caroling, giving gifts, even her friend Phoebe's disastrous pantomimes. The one thing she doesn't like is that the Pennyfoot seems like a magnet for murder during the Christmas season. Cecily hopes this Christmas will be murder-free but her hopes are quickly dashed when a member of her staff is murdered. Even worse, more murders quickly follow and Cecily fears a serial killer is loose at the Pennyfoot. Cecily vows to stop the killer before Christmas is totally ruined.
Like Cecily, I love Christmas and part of my holiday ritual is reading the latest Christmas Pennyfoot Hotel mystery. "Mistletoe and Mayhem" is a delightful addition to that holiday tradition. All of the favorite characters are there: Cecily and her husband Baxter, Madeline Prestwick and her husband Kevin, Phoebe Fortescue and her husband Frederick, as well as the household staff - Gertie, Pansy, Mrs. Chubb, Michel, and Samuel. Visiting them feels like visiting old friends. While this is a cozy mystery, this entry is a tad "bloodier" (for lack of a better word because it's not really bloody or gory at all) than other entries in the series and the body count is higher than usual. The mystery is well written and plotted and there are more than a few surprises along the way (without giving anything away I loved the subplot involving one of the guests!) Readers will have a good time trying to figure out who the killer is and author Kate Kingsbury provides plenty of suspects. Kingsbury also gives lots of hint as to who the killer is but the identity of the killer may still surprise many readers as will the (sad) reason behind the murders.
Kingsbury says in her introduction to "Mistletoe and Mayhem" that she isn't sure there would be more Pennyfoot books and accordingly she wraps up several ongoing storylines from the series (mostly the romantic storylines) but ends the book on a bit of a cliffhanger. Fortunately, on her website and Facebook Kingsbury says she is writing another Pennyfoot book (yay!) and it will be interesting to see how she resolves the cliffhanger. In the meantime, enjoy this year's trip to the Pennyfoot.