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by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Minotaur Books, November 2011
288 pages
ISBN: 031262283X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Penny Brannigan and her business partner, Victoria Hopkirck, are excited about the grand opening of their new spa. They have investigated the market and feel that by expanding from a nail shop to a spa is the smartest move they can make. In fact, they are anxiously awaiting the opening gala. During the renovation of the new spa, a skeleton was discovered in the ductwork, but so far the police have been unable to identify the remains. While the skeleton remains a curiosity, it will not prevent the spa from opening on time.

Meanwhile, Evelyn Lloyd has met a new man. He is a little bit younger than she is but incredibly charming. Harry Saunders, an American, has arrived in this small Welsh town and is winning over new friends left and right. He is teaching dancing classes and plans on holding many social events. However, it is obvious that he has his eye on Evelyn Lloyd. The only question that remains in some people's eyes is whether or not he is after Evelyn or the money her husband left her.

When Harry disappears, Evelyn is concerned. But when his body is discovered and the truth regarding his history with women and as a con man comes to light she is furious. What makes the situation even more galling is the fact that the police suspect her of the murder. As Penny has successfully solved two murders before, Evelyn turns to her for help. Even though Penny does not want to investigate and has enough to do with the spa opening and as a judge in the Christmas window contest, she cannot say no. She will work to find the killer while juggling all of her other personal and professional responsibilities.

A KILLER'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES is pretty typical of the series. The book starts off rather slowly but does built in pace without becoming a cliffhanger. The characters are a trifle one- dimensional, yet there is something about them that makes the reader care what happens to them. The majority of the action and all of the violence occur off-stage and should cause a sensitive reader any discomfort. Unfortunately nothing about this book stands out as it is very similar to the previous books in the series. Duncan needs to take a leap in her character development and plot devices if she hopes to keep a dedicated following. This series has a lot of potential, Duncan just needs to move the series to the next level.

Sarah Dudley, with a BA in English Literature, currently lives in PA with her herd of cats.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, December 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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