Cover Image: Murder in the Christmas Tree Lot

Murder in the Christmas Tree Lot

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Member Reviews

This is the 2nd book in the series and it's quite enjoyable. The storyline is well written and the characters are developing nicely. I'm really hoping this series will be around for a long time.
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This is an entertaining story. The characters are likable and have shown grow from the first book. There is never a dull moment for the main protagonist as she lives a very busy life. The mystery. This is a well-plotted and well-developed mystery that moves at a great pace. The well-placed red herrings keep the reader turning the pages to find out whodunnit. 

All thoughts and opinions are my own, and in no way have I been influenced by anyone..
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This had the potential to be a fun holiday themed book.  The main character, Tory, owner of the Christmas tree lot, was extremely paranoid.  That alone was off-putting for me.  I either wanted her to give up or grow up.
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Tory’s amateur sleuthing had an uphill battle, with the puzzle pieces strewn all over in the wake of the murder mystery on her business property. The storyline was great, and the characters were no exception. It took Tory all of her amateur sleuthing skills to outmaneuver the culprit thereby, avoiding any more fatalities.
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An entertaining and well written cozy mystery.
Good character development, a solid mystery that kept me hooked.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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An entertaining and well crafted cozy mystery. Good plot and character dynamics.  Cozy mystery fans will enjoy the book.  I received an advance ebook from the publisher and Netgalley and this is my unbiased review.
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Wonderful characters.  There is a cute dog in this story.

I liked how the story was written.  The story takes place during the Christmas season.
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Murder in the Christmas Tree Lot is the second instalment in Judith Gonda's mystery series featuring landscape architect Tory Benning. Having read the first book Murder in the Secret Maze earlier in the year, I was delighted to be offered the chance to read this one.

Set on the California coast, Tory is still reeling from the death of her husband, Milo and also her dad last year. The Benning Brothers company is having to struggle with a variety of setbacks including a computer hacker and an office break-in. Then a dead body is found in the Christmas tree area and once again, Tory is deep in the mire...

This second book builds up the characters well as busy Tory juggles all of her responsibilities - running Bennings, looking for tenants for her residential properties, continuing with her commitments as a landscape architect, as well as preparations for the forthcoming festivities. The pacing was spot on, there was always plenty going on and there was certainly never a dull moment!

Judith Gonda clearly knows how to write a story that is compelling, entertaining and fun, with characters that were not necessarily easy to love but fitted with the story really well. I really enjoyed Tory's personality traits - particularly her spirit and astuteness. It was intriguing to follow the progress of the case. Tory, Ashley (her supportive and caring friend), the amiable lieutenant Adrian Ramirez who is an old schoolmate, and Jake, the PI who she befriended a year ago at the time of Milo’s murder, all had individual reasons for their involvement. All of the characters had a great part to play, whether or not they were likeable and all had plenty of drive and resolve. The plot was brilliantly executed and I was desperate to find out what was going to happen next.

The combination of description and dialogue was great and I had plenty of opportunities to play armchair detective as the suspect list was a long one, with plenty of Santas milling about! I was definitely surprised by the final denouement. All things considered, I loved this fascinating mystery and I highly recommend this humorous, easy-to-read cozy. I am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series. A well-deserved five stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Beyond the Page Publishing via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Beyond The Page Publishing for kindly providing me with a digital copy of this book for review.
I usually find myself reaching for cozy mysteries at Christmas time- and if they’re Christmas themed then all the better. I think that this year (2020) that tradition of mine is going to take on extra importance - I’m sure I’m not the only one that needs comfort and escapism after all that this year has given us.
I haven’t read this author before but she definitely scratched that itch for me with this cozy mystery set at a Christmas tree lot. Her characters were likeable and the plot had enough twists to keep you guessing. There was some good red herrings thrown in that got you questioning if people were who they said they were. Overall it was a good paced and enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend as a good seasonal read. 3.5 stars.
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Christmas tree lots are supposed to be happy go lucky places right? Places where families and couples go to happily pick out their tree to decorate for the season with visions of a decorating party once home and sipping hot chocolate. What if that vision vanishes in an instant when a friend of the owner who runs a food truck is found dead on the lot?
From a hacked email to garbled dress code messages to being suspicious of tree lot employees who can you trust?
The mystery kept me on my toes guessing. The characters were solid,the plot was realistic and I enjoyed the story.
Fast paced and exciting, I look forward to more by this author.

Published November 17th 2020 by Beyond the Page Publishing.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you.
All opinions expressed are my own.
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Murder in the Christmas Tree Lot by Judith Gonda was an early release copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Tory Benning took over Benning Brothers Landscape design and Nursey after her father died. She is now the president. Every year they fence off part of it to sell Christmas trees. The business office is broken into and the manager can't find his keys. Emma, the food truck lady, was killed by a "Santa". Tory found her and called 911. There were 6 or 7 men dressed like Santa. Tory and her best friend, Ashley, have a lot of adventures in trying to find answers to who was causing so many problems.
I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book, but I really enjoyed reading it to see what would happen next. An exciting Christmas story at a Christmas tree lot. Only problem is I want to read more of their adventures. Thank you for a great book.
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A thoroughly enjoyable festive cosy with a strong and likeable heroine. Unlike many amateur sleuths, who tend towards the ditzy, Tory is understated, calm and gracious. 
The plot is clever and intriguing, with plenty of seasonal overtones. Setting is well constructed, and you get a very strong sense of community. People pull together here - apart from when they're bumping each other off, of course! The author gets the balance just right - we get glimpses of enough people to show this is a small town but we don't get swamped by a sea of names. 
Throughout Tory is continuing to come to terms with the loss of her husband, and this adds an extra layer to the story. 
There's excitement, tension, friendship, loyalty and courage, and sprinklings of wry humour. A wonderful read.
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This is the second book in this solid series; and this series holds great promise for many more stories to come.  I enjoyed following Tory, Ashley, Jake and Adrian as they each did their own investigating of the mysterious murder. Each had a legitimate reason to be involved; each one had a strong connection to an aspect of the case. This was not the usual snooping on the part of an amateur sleuth. The mystery was solid and kept me guessing, the characters were well developed and i would say they were people I would like to have as friends.  I highly recommend this novel.
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It's been a long, hard year for Tory Benning. Last year her father was still alive and so was her husband, Milo. In a short space of time her father died, she got married - and widowed the same day and started a new chapter in her life, none of it easy to cope with. Now, aged 34, she is an orphan, a widow, the owner of the family landscaping business, a landscape architect and owner of three residences. Christmas is here and that means the biggest money maker of the year for Bennings. It is enough to keep them afloat during the slow months to follow.
Tory is juggling her life running Bennings, trying to get two residences rented out and pull together the details for an event that she is having catered. Emma, who is an awesome baker and owns a food truck has agreed to do the catering gig for Tory. Her truck is parked in front of the Christmas tree lot and, after a few words with Tory, they agree to meet later. Santa has other plans for both Emma and Tory. It appears that somebody has hacked Tory's email system and redone the work schedule - now every employee is told to dress as Santa, not just the daily manager. As Tory and her BFF, Ashley enter the tree lot they can't decide how many Santas they are seeing. As many as seven? Did they see the same one more than once? When Tory stumbles across the dead body of Emma she realizes that she must have been within a few feet of the killer Santa. One thing is for sure, the killer had it all planned out with Santa as a disguise and the security system reduced to just one camera, killing Emma was not at all hard to do. With one of her employees the prime suspect - he used to date Emma but broke it off leaving her with very hard feelings - and then started dating Emma's employee.....not good in the eyes of the police, Tory also worries about the impact a homicide in her tree lot will have on her business. Not a very merry Christmas. Now a stalker may have targeted Tory.
I enjoyed following Tory, Ashely, Jake and Adrian as they each did their own investigating. Each had a legitimate reason to be involved, each one had a strong connection to an aspect of the case. None of the usual snooping on the part of an amateur sleuth. The mystery was solid and kept me guessing and the characters were well developed and were people I would like to have as friends.
My thanks to the publisher, Beyond the Page and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Cosy mystery that had potential but just went over the top with twee Christmassy "stuff" for me. The multiple Santas were a nice twist to start. A light read and a reasonably compelling murder mystery. Just lose the tack. Thanks to NetGalley and Beyond the Page Publishing for an honest review in return for an advance copy.
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This is the first time I’ve read anything by this author, but I found the book to be fast paced and enjoyable. I’m looking forward to reading more and getting to know Tory.
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Fun read by a still new to me author. Very fast paced, exciting read.. Interesting way the stories end up intertwining at the end. I love the friendship with Ashley and Tory and budding relationships. Very entertaining.
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Knee Deep In Murder....
A Tory Benning mystery. Whilst struggling with the impending festive season Tory, our sometime amateur sleuth, finds herself knee deep in murder and, with a suspect list defying reasonable bounds, she vows to catch a killer. Light, easy reading cosy mystery.
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This is my first time reading this author and I really enjoyed the book. The writing was very good with some humorous moments, some touching moments and more. The setting was cute, Santa Sofia, set at Christmastime. Tory was a strong lead with her bff sidekick, Ashley, and the mystery was well done. There were several red herrings that I fell for while reading the story. I never realized the ‘who done it’ and why until it was revealed. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC!
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4.5 stars

This is the second book in the Tory Benning Mystery series by Judith Gonda.

Tory has problems of her own, but when a friend who owns a food truck is found dead on her Christmas Tree Lot, she knows she has to get some answers.

I thought this was a great mystery. It was well plotted and the characters really resonated with me. I could easily see their POV and it kept me interested the entire time. I definitely want to continue on with the series. It will be a must read for me.

This is the type of story that you root for the characters and cross your fingers that their meet their aim, save the tree lot from all the negative publicity from the murder. This will be a great book to read right around Christmas!

Loved so much about it. If you like cozy mysteries, definitely check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.
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