I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Star Rating: ★★★★✰
A fun and festive read, Slay Bells is a cosy murder-mystery guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
It’s Christmas Village’s most wonderful time of year when all the inhabitants are preparing for the annual, week-long Christmas Festival.
But all is not right at Plum Cottage, as a troupe of entertainers in town for the festival are shocked at the death of their manager, Mr Stipes.
But this wasn’t just any death. Mr Stipes was murdered and left atop Plum hill, with no footprints going up or down in the snow. The town is baffled as to how the murder was committed, and who committed it.
As the village tries to go on with the festival, Sherriff Fell, along with the help of Maribel Claus, try to quell rumours of a Glockenvogel (or giant mythical bird) while working to find the murderer before they strike again.
In my opinion, there are four things that make a great murder-mystery
And Slay Bells has them all.
Firstly, you need a suitable setting …
… and if Christmas Village isn’t the perfect setting for a cosy mystery then nothing is.
It’s like every village from Midsomer Murders rolled into one. It’s got a town hall and council (or Elders as they’re called here), a historical society, gossipy villagers, cute cottages, and so much more that make it an ideal place to get engrossed in.
Secondly, you need a seemingly unsolvable murder.
A locked-room murder, if you will. While there’s no locked room in Slay Bells there is a body at the top of a hill with no footprints going up or down. How could the murderer have climbed up and down the hill without leaving any mark in the snow? It’s seemingly impossible!
Thirdly, a list of suspects, all with their own motive for wanting to kill the victim.
The troupe of entertainers make up this list, with an acrobat, a magician, a juggler, a strong-man, a psychic, and their beautiful assistant, all with their own grudges and gripes against the dead man. Freakin’ perfect.
Lastly, a great murder-mystery needs an investigator who leaves no stone unturned when trying to find the murderer.
Maribel Claus is the investigator in this book, along with Sherriff Fell, the local head policeman.
I was a bit worried when I started this book first, as I thought Maribel was going to be a Miss Marple knockoff.
I hate Miss Marple.
I know, I know, it’s an unpopular opinion. But I just think she’s a nosy cow who needs to mind her own damn business, and she annoys me so much!
So I wasn’t looking forward to reading about another old lady sticking her nose into police business.
But Maribel is nowhere near as annoying as Miss Marple. She’s kind and funny and makes a great amateur detective, and she’s not too smug when she figures everything out before Sherriff Fell.
There was only one thing that annoyed me about this book
And that was the ending being dragged out for much longer than it needed to be. Once Maribel figures out who the murderer is, she waits until the next morning to reveal how the murders were carried out rather than just telling everyone straight away. What a tease!
It was the only part of the book that annoyed me because we just want to find out what happened, dragging it out for two or three chapters was a bit unnecessary.
But Slay Bells is the perfect festive read nonetheless.
It’s cosy, it’s intriguing, it keeps you hooked, and it gives you all the Christmas feels you could possibly need.
Plus the title has a pun in it, and if you don’t love that then I’m sorry, I don’t think we can be friends.