Slay Bells: A Christmas Village Mystery

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

A mystery set in a quaint village where Christmas is the highlight of the year. They must love Christmas when Plum Cottage Inn is owned and operated by Mrs. Maribel Claus!

Slay Bells was a quick read and a nice diversion for a cool winter night.
Was this review helpful?
This is a new author to me and I loved the writing.. even thought it was a cozy mystery it’s formula for The Who done it was quite different . Just when I thought that I knew who did it I was proven wrong by the end of the story. This is definitely an author that I will continue to read because the fact that the story had me second guess my conclusion as to the mystery means that the author has a talent for story telling.
Was this review helpful?
I have to say it took me a while to get into this book. The beginning was a bit confusing, I felt, and the style took quite a bit of getting used to. However, once I accepted that there, after all, is a theatrical troupe at the heart of things and they’re likely to be a bit dramaticaI and self-centred, then the book trotted along nicely enough. 
The idea behind it is clever and refreshing, and most definitely festive, even with a spot of murder or two. The puzzle element is different, and adds a sparkle. Original and entertaining.
Was this review helpful?
I have read, reviewed and liked the author's other series:

Running from Scissors
Running from Arrows
This one, however, was not really my thing. I have had it on my list for a while and started and stopped it closer to its publication date. On the lookout for a quick read, I gave it another shot.

This is the story of a circus troupe performing in the Christmas village and one of them gets murdered. The search is on for the culprit, and the village 'elders' get together to throw ideas around. There is a lot of bumbling around by the law in the town, and although it was funny at times, beyond a point it was little too much for me. There are many, many clues thrown our way to identify the culprit, which I then did and therefore felt the final explanation to drag to the point. I am in the minority over my reaction to the book as other reviews would indicate. 

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is completely based on my reading experience.
Was this review helpful?
“Slay Bells (Christmas Village Mystery 1)  is the first book in the new Christmas Village Mystery series. It is also the first book that I have read by Author T.C Westcott. This was definitely a very cozy mystery. Bonus points that it occurred during my favorite holiday, Christmas. The characters were very eccentric. The pacing of the story moved a bit too slowly for me and Christmas was almost an afterthought. Also, the mystery was easily guessed within the first few chapters. Overall, this first installment was an ok read. 

* I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange of an honest review*
Was this review helpful?
I loved reading this cozy little mystery around the holiday season.  It is packed with Christmas, and a murder mystery so it is a fun thing to read.  I personally love trying to figure the mystery out before it is solved in the book, and this one presented a challenge for me; in the end, I guess right.  I loved the characters in this book and the small little village setting.  Besides the murder, this is where I wanted to be during Christmas.  Cute read and great for the holiday season!
Was this review helpful?
A cosy, holiday mystery. A nice little tale with eccentric characters and some odd goings on. The village setting is dedicated to Christmas and the Christmas spirit. However, murder most foul is afoot....can Mrs Claus save the day? Enjoyable and lighthearted.
Was this review helpful?
When a traveling troupe of what seems to be circus performers arrives in town for a winter festival that is over Christmas, one of them is causing a lot of trouble.  In fact, when he turns up dead - on a snowy hill with no footsteps around him it's a puzzle how he died.  But Mrs. Claus is determined to find out the truth, and sets about looking for a killer, before they kill again...

This book doesn't come right out and say it, but we're given the idea that Maribel Claus is "the" Mrs. Claus.  First off, why is the festival right during Christmas week, when "the" Mr. Claus wouldn't be around to enjoy it?  Just wondering about that one...

Anyway, from the name of the troupe I thought at first they might be whalers.  Who ever heard of a circus troupe named "Harpoons"?  That in itself was odd.  But the name of the man who died - Barnaby Snipes - had me rolling my eyes.  Could you find a more dastardly name?  I almost expected to read about him twirling his moustache as he gave an evil laugh.  The characters were cardboard cutouts and had nothing to recommend them.  The conversations were simple and written almost as if they were for children.  Sorry, but that's my opinion. 

At any rate, I found the book boring in the extreme, with nothing to draw me into the story.  The explanations of the deaths didn't seem plausible at all.  Honestly, I got so bored I kept quitting and starting back up again.  All I can say about this book is it's good reading material if you can't sleep.  It will do the job in no time.  Sorry, but I won't read any more by this author.
Was this review helpful?
This follows the Cosy mystery genre to a T. The characters all live in a village dedicated to Christmas with one if its seven leaders being Mrs Claus whose husband is noticeably absent in the run up to christmas. It is terribly twee but at least the investigation does include some real thinking and collaboration, although Mrs Claus is, as usual in this genre, better than the paid detectives. I enjoyed it, didn't need to suspend disbelief too much and would read others in the series
Was this review helpful?
very cute book!

Though i did not read it during the Christmas period, i could feel that festive vibe throughout :)

A very cozy Christmas story, which you should definitely try reading anytime in the month of December! :)

Also, very nice cover!! ;)
Was this review helpful?
I love the premise of the book but had a difficult time getting through it.  The characters and dialogue seemed incongruous while at the same time needlessly eccentric.  The story felt slow and convoluted.  Normally I find cozies (particularly holiday ones) beautiful, light treats and this one felt ponderous - like someone put a pound of sugar into a meatloaf..
Was this review helpful?
Trite, badly written and boring. This is what you get when an American tries to do 'English cozy crime' with a twist of Murder She Wrote, without understanding either.  Sorry.
Was this review helpful?
You can find this review and all of my others over at 

A cosy murder mystery set around Christmas which makes it even more cosy. 

Christmas Village is everything that it sounds like. And as it gets nearer to Christmas, the town becomes a beehive of activity. People flock to the village because somehow, everything Christmassy is just better in Christmas Village, right down to the snow feeling fluffier. As the festival season gets underway, a troupe of circus performers are in town and staying at Rose's cottage, they are part of the festival and looking forward to it. That is until their manager Barnaby Snipes is found murdered at the back of Rose's Plum Cottage, on a hill, with no footprints in the snow and no clues to give anyone leads as to whodunit. The local crazy man is shouting about it being the legendary Glokenvogal, while the rest of the town has all eyes on the rest of the performers. Things like this don't happen in Christmas Village, so the town is thrown into turmoil. In order to put things right, Maribel Claus and Rose Willoughby join forces to get to the bottom of it. Who murdered Barnaby? Why? And how on Earth did they get him on top of that hill without leaving any clues at all?

I have to admit, I am a downright sucker for a good mystery, there's something about them just gets me excited. In the last 12 months, I've taken a strong liking to cosy mysteries as well, there's just something about them that makes me all warm inside, probably why they're given the name cosy mystery in the first place. I also have to admit that I was a little disappointed in this one. I originally requested it around Christmas and was super excited to read it, something about reading it in the season it's written in just gets me happy, but due to me having a problem with requesting too many books, as well as buying too many books, I haven't been able to get to it until now. 

I found the setting fun, but I also found the majority of the characters to come across very fuddy duddy. I guess too politically correct for me would be an accurate description. This is the thing that is stuck in my mind the most after finishing this book, the townsfolk. While lovely, it was frowned upon to make even the slightest joke that was less than PC, which irked me a bit. It could just have been the expected response from the age bracket I assumed most of the characters in the town to be in, which I guess fits. 

The mystery itself was interesting and well done, though I had figured out the murderer and how Barnaby had been killed and placed on top of the hill by roughly half way through, which was a bit annoying. At first I had no idea, but then a character sees another character doing something and everything just clicked. The only thing that was a surprise was the revelation of what's in the box at the end, though I had already worked out the other twist of the story as well once the murderer was officially revealed. 

The characters were likeable enough, but there was nothing outstanding about them, besides Maribel's ferrets, I found that to be a cute addition. The sheriff was a standard police type character who believed that they were the well of knowledge when it comes to crime and murder, even though in reality he was generally the last to work something out. 

I found myself skimming the last chapter and most of the epilogue, I'm not sure if it's because I was so close to the end and wanted to finish it before I went to sleep, if I just found the stuff after the big reveal to be a bit pointless for me in regards to the story itself, or if it was a combination of both. I had a bit of trouble with the pacing of the story throughout the whole thing, sometimes it was super interesting, and moving great, then most of the time it was characters rehashing stuff and making pointless small talk that felt like an attempt to flesh out the word count of the book itself. I found myself sitting there going "Come on! Get to the point already!"

All in all, it was an okay story in a beautiful setting, I'm sad that I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped I would, but I enjoyed it okay in the end. If you're a fan of cosy mysteries with a soft spot for Christmas, I'd definitely say to give this one a go.
Was this review helpful?
This was a perfect christmas mystery! I enjoy a good mystery, & thought Mrs Claus added to it. Thanks for the arc
Was this review helpful?
I like the idea of this book. Interesting setting, characters and premise. Unfortunately I don't like the way it was written. There is far too much telling rather than showing. I really struggled to get through the Welcome. Things improved when I got to chapter 1. I thought once things had been 'set up' it would get going. Unfortunately not. Even when the first death was discovered, there was a lot of telling through dialogue info dumps. No action. It was difficult to connect with. A good draft that needs to be edited & rewritten before being published. Too late. I hope the author keeps working on Improving their craft because they have promise they just need to fine tune the execution.
Was this review helpful?
Slay Bells is a fun little cozy holiday mystery. It's predictable but still entertaining and unfolds with a bit of mystery. Perfect for the holidays when you don't have a lot of time because this is a fast light read. It's a charming story that cozy mystery fans will adore. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book is such a sweet, entertaining, cosy Christmas mystery! It's really the kind of book you want to read on your couch holding a cup of hot chocolate looking at the snow outside.  It's a light, easy-to-read story, full of colourful characters.  Pay attention while you read! You'll be given all the pieces to solve the mystery way before the solution is explained!
Was this review helpful?
Slay Bells had all the makings of a Hallmark movie with a quaint village, quirky characters and it's holiday atmosphere. A quick and easy read, the author's writing style is engaging to readers and filled with lots of suspense. 

What I enjoyed about Slay Bells: 
- The diverse and interesting cast of characters. Magicians and psychics make up some of this unusual, but unique cast of characters. Plus "Mrs. Claus" is the lead sleuth on the case which is pretty cool! 
- The folklore.
- The humor.
- The small town setting. The setting was right out of a Hallmark movie and sort of reminded me of Whoville. The whole town is alive with the Christmas spirit.
- The crime. There was so many different suspects and with the addition of a town legend that it feels like the author is challenging the reader to go on and figure out who committed the crime. 

Slay Bells is quite the holiday tale and was my favorite read of Christmas 2018. A perfect cozy for Christmas, T.C. Wescott was a new to me author, but is now one that I can't wait to read more from.
Was this review helpful?
Who doesn't love a high drama mystery to solve during the holidays. It's up to Maribel to discover who is trying to ruin the holidays. Very entertaining.
Was this review helpful?
Christmas should be a merry time in the village called Christmas but instead, they are dealing with a murderer who had already taken two lives. Imagine that, and to back it up they had very inept law enforcers mainly in the form of the sheriff and his deputy. So it was up to Mirabel to put her deductive and intuitive skills to work, to unmask the villain, all this drama brought about a Christmas miracle with the eccentric and reclusive Doctor reconnecting with his community. A wonderful entertaining and intriguing read.
Was this review helpful?