End Date: December 31st
Author: Holly Tierney-Bedord
Pages: 135 (paperback)
Selected By: Lady Esbe
“Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of a beautiful, historic bed and breakfast in Windy Pines, Idaho. Guests come to Mistletoe Manor to escape from their troubles while enjoying the scenic mountain town.
“When all seven rooms of the inn get booked on a Tuesday night in December, Klarinda is excited about having so much business, but a little confused as well. After all, her inn normally isn’t exactly a destination hot-spot.
“The guests have barely settled in before strange things begin happening. Is this the most accident-prone group of travelers ever, or is someone out for revenge?” – from the Amazon Summary
To describe Murder at Mistletoe Manor in a word would be: JUVENILE. I was looking forward to a brief murder mystery for the month of December to be a nice reprieve from having a long book and enjoy the holiday. Ha, was I ever disgusted. I only found the humor in the book as I was berating it to Elle Tea. Then laughter at the sheer absurdity ensued.
My first and biggest issue with this novel is the author’s logic on what made sense in this book was utterly astounding. I am not tackling this in order, but as I think of the next most ridiculous thing that struck me about this drivel. So the author’s logic as to why the owner of this B&B would own a B&B is wayward and as about as mature as a child sticking out his tongue and saying “nanana booboo”. What adult woman buys a bed and breakfast in Idaho in an effort to attract single men? Oh, I’m sorry, they don’t. I don’t know any single heterosexual male that would be caught dead in a bed and breakfast but for wooing his current love interest. Strike one to this owner.
Strike two comes in the fact that she is ill prepared for a full house. Her B&B might as well have been a Clue board game, where the rooms are named by color vice the character and most definitely a candidate for Gordon Ramsey’s Hotel Hell. In this comedy of errors, the owner of this ill-conceived establishment is thoroughly in love with what I would picture as one of the most tacky and ill-maintained establishments of all time. Where her stupid guests point out where the inn is lacking, she becomes belligerent and self. For instance, a guest pointed out that “yellow is a horrible color for a room”, the proprietor sulkily whines that she thinks the rooms are pretty as they are. Then there is the bemoaning of the use of her new 500 thread count sheets to cover up the body of one her guests.
To make it worse each and every character is so one dimensional, (yes, I said one), it was beyond cliché. Again, the owner is pure aggravation for me. Because she is curious as to why her bed and breakfast is at capacity for once in her two years of running it, rather than take her guests at face value, she takes the time to snoop in their belongings, and this is before the first death even occurs. SERIOUSLY? This is why people don’t trust hotel maids. Not only is this place a dump (yes, I imagine a rotting structure, rather than a picturesque cozy spot), but the owner is a meddler who thinks it’s wise to go through her guests belongings. As the story progresses her lack of intellect and “super sleuthing” leaves a lot to be desired. Elle put it most accurately by saying it “Darn you pesky kids” a la Scooby Doo.
During our discussion, Elle Tea mentioned how cartoonish she found the murders to be. I found them to be beyond bizarre and as unimaginative as my one-year-old nephew (actually, that’s cutting him short, he possibly could have come up with better and he only has two words in his vocabulary). I would say spoiler alert, but there is nothing to spoil when I ask: How do two grown, full-sized adult people drown in the same tub? And how is your building so out of code that the tub can be sent crashing through the floor after the tub overflows… and crashes so abruptly and with such force that it actually crushes a guest? Sheer nonsense.
Strike three is that this idiot owner’s interactions were so inappropriate I don’t even know where to begin. But let me try. What stood out like a glaring red light was that she drooled over every decent looking man available. From the bicycle courier, the hot guest to the hot deputy. I don’t begrudge the woman for enjoying the scenery, but of all her issues, she chooses the most inopportune time to be googly eyed at someone. Then there is the “shoulder to cry on” bit she did to just be nosey regarding the guest’s acquaintance status. Really? Was that even necessary, apparently to this author. Finally, her intervening with the deputy while the last standing guest slowly makes a getaway. I mean, the man is literally shoveling out his car (and if you’ve ever driven in snow and ice), slowly creeping down a hilly driveway because it’s not been plowed. Yet he gets away from the deputy. WHHHHAAAATTTT?
My final bit of angst. . . why? Why? Why? Every small-town cop is not Barney Fife. In fact, how do you have a whole cadre of Barney’s running around one small town as the law enforcement goes. The most competent is the handsome one. . . but that doesn’t last long when you allow a witness/suspect to slowly creep away in a car during a snow storm. Then you have the idiot man-child cop who is asking the most ridiculous questions and making the stupidest pretense; it took everything in me not to throw my kindle across the room.
In short, I found not one iota of this book amusing, clever or fun. The fun came in when Elle Tea and I managed to laugh at how frustrated I was. I was then treated to numerous texts from Elle Tea as she read and go to the parts that had me fuming. So, well, then laughter ensued again. I apologized to both ladies that they wasted a dollar on this nonsense. However, I would have been even more upset and felt the need to reimburse them if they had decided to go the route of purchasing the paper back for $8.99. Seriously, for a book not even 200 pages and would make my 9-year-old goddaughter angry, that’s just asinine.
Esbe’s Favorite Character(s): No one.
Lady Esbe read the Amazon Kindle version of this book.
Murder at Mistletoe Manor reminds me of an ugly Christmas sweater – it shows up right around the holidays and is so repulsive that you can’t help but mock it. But we really couldn’t have had a better selection to end this godawful year, and it really summed up 2016 well: if you managed to make it to the end, all you can do is laugh and shake your head. And I can honestly say that I haven’t laughed so hard in a while – at one point, Esbe and I could barely understand one another from all of the giggling, snorting, and cackling. I mean… it’s so bad, I don’t even know where to begin to tell you how bad it actually is.
Let’s start with the character development and dialogue, since that was the first thing I mentioned during our club discussion. The conversations are stiff and unrealistic – if I tried to translate the style of dialogue used in this novel into daily life, I would sound a bit like this:
“Lady Esbe my friend picked out this book. This book is about an inn. An inn is like a hotel, but this is like a bed and breakfast, and it’s Christmas. Christmas lights are pretty, but this book doesn’t have any of those. Lady Esbe my friend is mad now that this book exists, even if it doesn’t have Christmas lights.”
I mean, one of the people actually wastes the time halfway through this debacle to say, “I’m sorry. Death always makes me sad.” No shit – that’s just so deep, y’know? Like… wow.
And yet they know nothing about one another. Klarinda, Myrtle, and Pierre (the chef, obviously, because all chefs have French names, even the ones in BFE Idaho B&Bs) have never thought to mention how old they are, where they came from, why Klarinda bought this inn, how she bought it, their families… nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Oh, and then we learn that Klarinda’s driving purpose for buying a B&B was that she thought it would be “a guy magnet.” Let me just reiterate this: a woman bought a bed and breakfast in the mountains of Idaho because she thought it would up her chances of meeting Mr. Right. First of all, I have never considered Idaho a premium vacation spot for anyone let alone single fellas. And secondly, how many heterosexual men between the ages of 30 and 40 do you know who go to B&Bs for their vacations???
And as for the business of running the B&B itself… it’s all a joke. Just one big, craptastic joke. Klarinda needs an attitude adjustment, because, quite frankly, a majority of the issues she had with her guests were ones that I just can’t fault them for being pissed about. The B&B itself is a seven-room inn with “Mistletoe” in the fucking title, right? So seven people show up, and Klarinda is immediately bent out of shape because she’s just not staffed or equipped to handle a full house. Not only that, but the guests arrive to find that at least one of the toilets doesn’t work, the plow is broken so the snow has covered the drive so completely that one of the guests actually ends up being dropped off at the entrance of the property and is forced to carry all of their own luggage into the inn, the fireplaces aren’t lit so it’s cold as hell in the dining room, and there are zero decorations up for the holiday season. Then Klarinda goes into the guests’ rooms for “turn-down service” while they are all in the dining room, and she does a lot less fluffing and flipping than she does digging through their coat pockets and bags. And when one of the guests asks for shampoo and conditioner, the staff get snarky about it and respond that they don’t provide such amenities… only to hand some travel-sized containers over a second later that Klarinda had stuffed under the counter for her own personal use.
If I stayed in such a place and got the sort of reception these guests did, I’d probably start killing people, too. Or at least one person.
And why by the powers of Grayskull do we have a character named Rod Showers in this book who must be referred to by his full name the entire time?? It sounds like the screen name of a mustachioed 1980s porn star… and damn it all if he’s not the friggin’ plumber, which leads to speculation at one point about whether or not one of the victims may have had her pipes poisoned by Rod Showers. I mean… come on. Come. On.
Okay, so let’s get past the shit characters to focus on the shit plot. So, murders are happening left and right, and Klarinda’s biggest immediate concern isn’t the loss of her guests or the damage to her reputation and her business… No. Of course not. Because she just bought new 500-thread count sheets for the bed, and the movement of the body is trailing the new duvet in blood. She gets past her PTSD (post-traumatic sheet disorder) just enough to begin ogling some of the male law enforcement officers literally over two dead bodies. Once we’re three or four victims in, one of the officers who eventually shows up on the scene notifies the staff that the deputy hasn’t been called in himself because he’s dealing with “real emergencies” – and color me surprised here to find out that Idaho is so friggin’ hardcore that murder ain’t no thang to them (I mean, I’ve never heard of someone coming up straight outta Boise, but maybe that’s just me). Local law enforcement dubs a poisoning, two adults drowning in a single tiny bathtub, and someone being literally smashed to death by a piece of furniture as accidents. And they have bigger issues to deal with than this sudden explosion of dead people at an otherwise rather sleepy B&B… like traffic accidents.
Once the law enforcement makes a more official and long-term appearance, things get no better. One potential suspect literally shovels out a vehicle while an officer and Klarinda are both standing right there – and then gets in and drives away! And keep in mind this is during blizzard conditions, so this suspect didn’t squeal out of the drive; no, they had to dig that vehicle out, then creep out of the parking spot in reverse, then slowly creep down the driveway and away down the road. At which point the officer – who had, again, been standing there the entire time – makes it known that he didn’t bother to make a note of the make, model, or plate number and basically pulls a Fox and Hound routine of “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?”
And the murders. My god, these things are like something from cartoons. A tub falls on someone, and one of the victims is actually smashed to death when an armoire falls on them – in fact, this latter victim is crushed so completely that juices ooze out all over the floor, like a shoe on a cockroach. This could totally happen. Of course it could. In a world where the armoire has ACME stamped on the back of it and all that’s left of the perpetrator is a trail of slowly-settling dust leading off into the distance and the echo of their cheery voice crying, “Beep beep!”
I can’t recommend this book to anyone. Not anyone. Not children. Not adults. Not pets. Not tardigrades in space. No one. But if you are still considering reading it, I’ll give you one other option before you dedicate yourself to this folly: save yourself the dollar and turn on some Christmas music, walk over to the nearest wall, begin beating your head against it as hard as you can while someone tickles you for a couple of hours, and wait to pass out. That weird, light-headed, confused feeling you have upon waking up will be identical to the one you would have had if you’d spent any time at all reading this book.
“I’m ashamed to even be a part of this debacle.”
You and me both, Deputy Fuller. You and me both.
Elle’s Favorite Character(s): I hated everyone equally. But Rod Showers gets another mention because… Rod Showers was in her pipes. Yes, yes, he was.
Elle Tea read the Amazon Kindle version of this book.
“He nodded, dinging the little bell on her front counter. “That’s loud! I like little bells like this. You don’t see them much anymore.””Note: This is coming from a police officer. Seriously?!
“There’s only one page, Miss Snow, and it’s the page with the facts.”Note: This was just stupid.
“I’m not at liberty to say whose baby it is,” said the young officer. “But yeah, it’s Nicole Pelzner’s baby.”
“First though, I think it’s best if we take some photos of the room. Just in case wee need them later,” said the sheriff.Note: I don’t know, Captain Obvious, should one photograph a crime scene? You tell me, but I do believe there are entire law enforcement careers centered around photographic effin’ crime scenes. And can we get some goddamn crime-scene tape added to the department’s budget next year??
“Well, yes. Really,” said Klarinda. “I took a criminal justice class once in college, and I got an A plus.”
Note: Well zip-a-dee-doo-da for you that it takes more than a single college course to make detective.
BillMo’s Favorite Character(s): None.
BillMo read the Amazon Kindle version of this book.