The Deaths of December | SJI Holliday


Mulholland Books

The strap-line on my Review Copy is ‘Have yourself a deadly little Christmas’ and a blood-spattered broken bauble. Has she been round my house when I’m trying to put up my glass tree ornaments? There’s always bloody-fingered carnage round at mine …

What does the book tell us about itself?:

When an advent calendar is delivered to the police station, no one takes any notice, until they open it to find a murder behind every door.

Santa’s not the only one in red this Christmas …

It looks like a regular advent calendar. Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors… and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one. The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years. But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station? As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…”

Let me introduce you to your two new favourite coppers – fresh-out-of-the box Detective Constable Becky Greene and the older and more experienced DI Eddie Carmine. They both have a penchant for a fried breakfast and are as sharp as tacks when it comes to working out the clues.

I’ve not read anything by Susi Holliday before and only encountered her for the first time at Bute Noir and I was struck by her great (dark!) sense of humour, so I was delighted to discover that sense of humour sneaks into The Deaths of December too.It’s not a comedy book, but there are nice light touches to break up the many body-strewn advent calendar doors. This might be the first of Susi’s books that I’ve read, but it most certainly won’t be the last.

We start on a Friday with Nine More Sleeps To Go. Right from the outset there is a sense of a race-against-time. From the get go, all the things you love about Christmas are here, but skewed from their regular jolly annual appearance. The Advent Calendar count down which always fills one with excited anticipation now becomes an ominous clock against which the police officers race.  There are craft fairs, there is snow and there is murder with (jingle) bells on.

The story is told from several points of view – first of all we meet the mysterious Photographer before moving the other main characters Becky, Carly and Eddie. Only the photographer speaks in the first person which gives us access to more information than our two detectives have. Will they puzzle things out in time?

At the back of your mind you are aware that the story is winding up at Two More Sleeps and, Ding Dong Merrily on High, we’re NOT quite done yet! What about One More Sleep?! Don’t stop reading before the Epilogue or you’ll miss the dead cat bounce and full resolution of the story.

I was up ALL night reading this Winter Tale as it drew me forward to its snow-sprinkled conclusion. Honestly, my eyes were sore. It was GREAT.

Who did I love the best? I loved all the characters in this book, to be honest. There was some interesting insights into Becky’s past and Eddie Carmine’s home life is not exactly happy. They are very likeable and realistic creations with a good line in banter. You are willing Carmine and Greene to catch The Photographer before he pulls focus and trains his lens a little closer to home…

What did I love most about this book? I do love when an author can make you feel compassion for a killer yet you are still desperate for that killer to be caught. That’s a skill in itself! If pressed, I would say that I loved the character of Carly best of all. I don’t want to say too much because she really is important to the plot, but I really felt for her and the life that she has found herself in.

Get it and read it as a little Christmas treat to yourself!

Merry Christmas from everyone at Bute Noir!