Hello everybody! Today’s blogmas post is my review of the Very Merry Murder Club anthology, which I’ve been very excited about reading and thoroughly enjoyed diving into under my cosiest blanket. I’ve put little star emojis beside all the ones I would rate five stars. Onto the post!
💫 Shoe-dunnit by Elle McNicoll 💫
This was such a brilliant start to the anthology that absolutely nothing else could have topped it, really! It’s about an autistic detective named Briar and her basset hound Flute solving the murder of a ballerina at a snowed-in inn in Aviemore. Briar was absolutely amazing and I really just wanted to be her friend, and it made me so happy to see a neurodivergent heroine. And Flute, what a delightful detective dog!! My other two main points I jotted down for this one are that it’s laugh out loud funny in places, and also that I think the mystery was ingenious. I’m very, very proud of myself for working out part of the solution!!
It’s Snow Crime by Roopa Farooki
I don’t want to be a Grinch, so I’ll preface this by saying I think this is intended more for existing fans of Roopa Farooki as it sees her characters Tulip and Ali solve a Christmassy mystery at the hospital where their mum works, but this really just didn’t do it for me personally. I felt like it simeltaneously spent a lot of time recapping the plot of the books, but not enough for me to actually understand who these characters were, so I ended up just feeling a wee bit lost. My only real highlight of it was that I liked Nan-Nan, and I did like the idea of Santa being a villain as well! In short, I wanted to like this but it jus didn’t hit the mark for me, although I’m sure people who’ve read the books these characters are from would love it.
The Beast of Bedleywood by Annabelle Sami
I’ve only read one of the Agent Zaiba books and I’ve always intended to read the others but never gotten round to it, so I’m glad I read this because it’s made me much more keen to do so! It takes place around New Year’s and it’s about a brother and sister investigating some strange goings-on despite being grounded. I loved both Tamsin and Rumi and their banter was hilarious, but their mum absolutely stole the show. What a queen!! It also has some important messages about conservation of nature and a really lovely ending.
The Christmas Heist by Abiola Bello
This one was a lot of fun! It’s about a dance troupe stealing back a trophy from their rivals after they’re wrongfully disqualified at the last moment, after they’d already been announced as winners. I really liked the writing style, especially the camaraderie between the dancers and the humourless and the ending really made me smile. Also, Abiola’s newest book was announced recently and although it’s a totally different genre and age category (it’s a YA romance) it also sounds very much up my alley and I can’t wait to read it!
Cool for Cats by Patrice Lawrence
This is about a girl named Evey and her little brother visiting their Aunt Maria’s house to feed her cat while she’s on holiday, and the strange things they find there. This was another one where the mum just absolutely stole the show for me, but I did also like Evey’s older sister very much. I won’t say which theme this tackles, but it’s one that’s impacted me personally this year and I thought it was very well handled. And it made me cry!
💫 It Takes a Thief to Catch a Thief by Maisie Chan 💫
This story was just SUCH a joy!! It focuses on Alma, who is the daughter of infamous cat burglar the White Rabbit, and her Nanny So-Kim, as they try to track down Alma’s mum when it seems like she has been kidnapped. I loved Alma’s witty narration so, so much and Nanny So-Kim was just INCREDIBLE, I especially loved the T-Time part! And Claude Van Twix is quite possibly the BEST character name EVER. The Christmas scene at the end was just delightful as well!
💫 The Frostwilds by Dominique Valente 💫
First of all, I feel it’s very important to note that this has a disabled heroine with a limb difference, and she’s absolutely badass and brilliant and it made me super happy to see another disabled character in this anthology being amazing. This takes place in a fantastically well-crafted fantasy world ruled by superstition and fear of angering a monster by breaking it, and that allowed for a really great message about not letting fear rule your life to be communicated. I’m such a huge fan of Dominique and her writing, so I’m very pleased to have read this to tide me over till her next full length book is released in the spring.
💫 Scrabble and Murder by Nizrana Farook 💫
While I did really like the vast majority of stories in here, I have to admit I was expecting a lot more murder mysteries, so I was chuffed when I got to this one and it was very much a whodunit! It’s about another hotel stay that turns deadly, when a former criminal is murdered after a tense game of Scrabble. Saba is a very likeable, clever main character, and I also loved her little brother Jam, who makes some hilarious foot in mouth comments. Jill also really made me laugh, and I thought the denouement scene was fantastic too.
The Ticking Funhouse by Benjamin Dean
This was so creepy and atmospheric that had a lowkey horror vibe, which I wasn’t expecting based on Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow, but was very much here for nonetheless. It’s about a boy named Billy’s journey through a sinister funhouse to save his dads from a mysterious, malevolent controlling force. The riddles were brilliant and I was very happy with myself for solving one, and that ambiguous ending will be living in my head rent free for a WHILE.
💫 Ice and Fire by Joanna Williams 💫
Oh my god this has made me SO EXCITED for this author’s debut next year, because this story was an introduction to her characters (especially Lizzie Sancho and her family, although we do get a brief mention of Dido Belle towards the end!) and world, and I absolutely adored it. There’s a properly exciting mystery with a deeply satisfying outcome, characters I can only really describe as phenomenal given how much they stole my heart in so few pages, and to top it all of there’s A FROST FAIR!! I’m dying to read a full length book from Joanna Williams now!
Silent Night by Serena Patel
I’m not usually the biggest fan of Rear Window style mysteries, mostly because I’ve experienced so many in books and on TV, but I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. I loved the main character Arjun, who is off school recovering from illness, a frankly absurd amount, mostly because he just made me laugh so much. My other favourite thing about him was his inquisitive nature, which combines with the humour to create a stellar narrative voice. The mystery is very intriguing and has a great solution, and side characters Mo and Ba also deserve a mention because they too added to my enjoyment of my first experience with Serena Patel’s writing.
No Piste for the Wicked by E.L Norry
This follows a boy named Luca as he goes on a school ski trip and his investigation into the murder of one of the teachers supervising it. The actual investigation in here was really well structured and the clues were very well done as well, and something else I appreciated was that the main character is from a foster care background and this story explores that experience. A very fun, inclusive murder mystery that has me very hopeful E.L Norry will write a full length mystery book someday!
The Cove(n) at Christmas by Sharna Jackson
My main notes on this were that I loved the title and the fabulous coastal setting, but I do also have a few other thoughts to share! It’s about a girl named Malorie moving house and discovering that the previous owner was actually murdered, despite what everyone has been led to believe, and her investigating that year-old murder. The suspects were all so suspicious that I really couldn’t decide who was the culprit, and I don’t want to give anything away but I think that may have been a deliberate choice on Sharna Jackson’s part given the way things turn out. I also loved how atmospheric it was, and Malorie’s determination to get justice for Phoebe.
Thank you so much for reading! Have you picked this anthology up? Are you a fan of any the authors? What do you think of short story collections? I’d love to hear in the comments!!
2 thoughts on “Festive Anthology Review: the Very Merry Murder Club”
I have the paperback on my must-buy list. There are some great names there, truly, and I look forwards to reading them all now you have wet my appetite. Elle’s sounds brilliant, and the more ND and diverse characters we have out there the better. We adore anything feline, so Patricie’s will be interesting. I attended a lecture Patrice gave at a writers conference, and she is very interesting. Dominques writing is so much fun, I cant wait to read hers, as well as Sharna’s too.
Thanks for a fab review.
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Oooh I really hope you like it when you pick it up!! I suspect Patrice’s story may be your favourite as it is VERY feline-oriented! x
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