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by David Handler
Minotaur Books, October 2012
254 pages
ISBN: 1250004543

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Snow storm after snow storm has blanketed Dorset, Connecticut and people are getting a little crazy. Things are disappearing from the curbside mail boxes. The postmaster asks State Trooper Des Mitry to investigate on the sly as she is hesitant to have the postal authorities involved since people in Dorset often use mail boxes for things other than mail such as cash payments for the snow removal man and presents for the mail carriers - things that are strictly against postal regulations.

But missing mail is not the only problem plaguing Dorset. Bryce Peck, the black sheep of an influential family, has returned and moved into the family's home next to Mitch Berger on Big Sister Island. He seemed to finally have his life back on track thanks to his life coach (and girlfriend) Josie Cantro. But then he unexpectedly commits suicide. Given the problems he was believed to have had, people weren't all that surprised when it happened. However, when another townsperson also commits suicide, it seems unlikely to be a mere coincidence. When it turns out both victims were clients of the same life coach, Mitry starts digging into Josie's past. This causes some uncomfortable moments between Mitry and Berger. Not only did Josie live with Bryce next door to Mitch, he has become fond of his new neighbor and is her frequent running partner.

On top of the missing mail and suicides, young Kylie Champlain crashes her car into Cantro's office building after shoplifting an extremely expensive pair of boots. Mitry starts to fit the pieces together leading to some startling discoveries about the people in this small picturesque town. The author uses Mitry's investigation to offer a sad commentary on the life all too many people are leading- not only in this small fictional town, but in real life everywhere. People have stopped participating in their own lives. Instead of working towards a realistic career, Kylie sits around dreaming of being a reality television star. Her mom is more involved with her cell phone than her own family and Kylie's father is trying to relive his glory days with his first girlfriend from high school rather than tending to his family and business.

I have read all of the Mitry and Berger books. My favorite thing about them is how well developed the characters are. Not only are Mitry and Berger multidimensional, with new angles to their personalities brought out with each book, but Handler has taken the time to develop a town full of well defined characters making Dorset seem like a real place with real people and real problems. The plot of THE SNOW WHITE CHRISTMAS COOKIE is a busy one. For a book that is well shy of three hundred pages, there is an awful lot going on. But Handler doesn't cheat the readers. There are no leaps that leave the reader hanging wondering how things got to a given point.

I do have one issue with the book and it is directed at the publisher rather than the author. Readers should not read the jacket flap before reading the book. The jacket gives way too much of the plot away. If you read the jacket, you might as well skip the book.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, November 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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