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Mistletoe Murder: 04/07/21
Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier is the first of the Lucy Stone mystery series. The original title, Mail-Order Murder, makes more sense in the overall context of the novel but also shows at a quick glance just how outdated this story is.
Lucy Stone works the night shift as a mail order company. It's coming up on Christmas so she's extra busy. At home she carries all of the emotional labor in planning the holiday events, decorating, baking, and buying gifts for the children. At work she discovers the founder of her company dead in his car of an apparent suicide.
While this book is packaged as a cozy, especially with the newer title (editions from 1998 onwards), there's a callousness to this book that later cozies lack. Cozy leads remain optimistic whenever possible. When there is a death, even after finding more than one body, the cozy sleuths grieve. Lucy lacks this level of engagement and reminds me more of Kinsey Millhone. The difference, here, is Millhone is a private detective.
Another thing that sets the book apart from a typical cozy is the early, grizzly death of the main character's cat. Cats and cozies go hand in hand. The cat is never harmed, unless it's destiny is to be a helpful ghost cat. This cat is just a dead cat who wasn't well cared for and isn't grieved over. Worse yet, the cat is a plot device to get Lucy in the right spot to learn some key information.
The next book in the series is Tippy Toe Murder (1994).