Slay Bells (A Christmas Village Mystery)
by T.C. Wescott
Solving the Impossible Murder – by Maribel Claus
Hello good friends and fellow readers, I hope my scribbles find you well. My name is Maribel Claus and I’m positively delighted to find that I’ve been asked by our splendid webmistress to share a few words with you regarding the subject of murder. Not committing them, mind you, but solving them. One must always fall on the side of good! But first, a little about myself.
I live in the village of Christmas which is only a 90-minute train ride from the Big City but has always been and, I dare say, always will be a little world all its own. We do things our own way here and see little point in changing. Our buildings are old but well-kempt, as are the cottages in which we live. In fact, we’ve got gardens that go back three-hundred years! And they’re every bit as lustrous as the day they sprouted first bloom. We utilize all the modern conveniences of the larger burgs, but sparingly so. We prefer gaslight over electricity and use our cellular phones for practical purposes and not entertainment as our joy comes from one another and the beauties surrounding us. And there’s ample beauty to be found in Christmas Village! We have seven parks and three squares full of shops and edibles you can’t find anywhere else.
But even Christmas Village is not without its troubles and that is what this post is about. As you’ll see in Slay Bells: A Christmas Village Mystery, our Sheriff Fell and Deputy Bentley find themselves pitted against a more than able foe as lodgers at Rose Willoughby’s Plum Cottage Inn are murdered one-by-one in ways that at best could be termed impossible and some see as outright supernatural.
A man is found dead atop a 12-foot high snowy hill, but no tracks were left in the snow. Another victim had been walking across the snowy ground of a lonely park at night when he was hit upon the head and murdered, yet the killer left only footprints leading from the body but none leading to it. The boys down at the Cork & Bottle worked themselves and half the village into a frenzy, convinced the midnight assassin was none other than the Glockenvogel, or Bell Bird, a creature of Christmas Village lore said to fly in search of a victim and leave a small bell behind with the body when finished.
Poppycock! In these murders I saw a clear human agency. But I knew that in order to catch the culprit I’d have to first figure out how the murders are committed. Solving a Howdunit is, I dare say, more difficult than solving a whodunit. To begin with, you don’t know why the killer chose to commit an impossible crime: Was it to cover his or her own culpability or to frame their true target? Or—and this should never be ruled out—was it by accident and not design that the murder seems to beggar belief?
Sound confusing? Then you’ll understand how I felt standing in the kitchen of Plum Cottage and helping my good friend Rose Willoughby, who was nursing a hurt ankle, feed and host a quirky collective of circus performers who were in the village as entertainment for our annual grand Christmas Festival. At least one among them was a murderer…but who and why? And, of course, how?
Pulling off an impossible murder is not unlike performing a magic trick as you’re giving the impression that one thing has occurred when, in fact, something altogether different has taken place. If you’re wishing to solve the murder then no detail is too small, so keep your eyes and ears out at all times. Look for what doesn’t belong, doesn’t quite fit. Look for what fits a little too well. And always look for what might be missing. Forget alibis. Even if someone is supposed to have been locked in a jail cell under police supervision, they can’t be ruled out. All bets are off, as the saying goes.
In the case of the ghoul in our midst as aptly recorded by T.C. Wescott in the book Slay Bells: A Christmas Village Mystery, we find ourselves faced with a killer who can seemingly fly, possesses great strength, and leaves no trace if he/she so chooses. But all is not what it seems.
So, how did I solve the mystery? You’ll have to read Slay Bells to find out! But I’ll tell you this – I couldn’t have done it without my precious ferrets, Dancer and Prancer, and the secret of the first murder might have remained impregnable if I hadn’t cracked the code of the second murder. As you’re reading Slay Bells imagining yourself sitting at the fire in Rose’s parlor, or enjoying the festival in the village square, or losing yourself in the more mundane details of our treasured village life, also keep an eye out for the little hints and beware of false trails. Once you see how the second murder was committed, you’ll have your culprit. But if you’d prefer to simply enjoy watching the story unfold without taxing the old grey matter, fear not, as I will reveal all in the end.
I’ll be in Christmas Village awaiting your arrival!
About the Book
Slay Bells (A Christmas Village Mystery)
Brand New Series
Better Mousetrap Books (November 23, 2018)
Print Length: 273 pages
Digital ASIN: B07HGG7ZFR
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the village, the night settled in over swirling-smoke chimneys; the air was alive with pine and holly, with sugar and cinnamon and cider, by golly!
Along snowy lanes and through shadows it crept, past windows behind which each villager slept, where sleeping dogs lie and cats rest a’purring—
Tonight, in Christmas Village, a killer is stirring.
Welcome to Christmas Village, a magical hamlet where even in December the roses hold their luster and bees buzz among the bluebells. You’re just in time for the week-long Christmas Festival, and nowhere is Christmas celebrated with such unrestrained merriment as the village which bears its name. Mayor Cobblestone and Sheriff Fell will be somewhere nearby, doing all they can to make sure you’re safe during your stay.
Provided you haven’t booked a room at Plum Cottage.
Nestled betwixt an opulent garden with meandering footpaths and an ancient grove of plum trees, Rose Willoughby’s boarding house is plum-full with lodgers. There are no vacancies, but just wait. Soon there will be one…and another…and another.
Presently lodging at the cottage are: the juggler, the acrobat, the magician, the psychic, the strongman, the manager, and the pretty assistant. In town as festival entertainment they’ve each brought their own bag of tricks. And a closetful of skeletons.
When the entertainers begin dying in inexplicable ways, some villagers believe a beast from old village lore is the culprit. The sheriff knows better, but he’s just as helpless to catch the invisible killer as are the town folk with their eyes to the sky in search of a flying creature. But our mysterious murderer hasn’t counted on yet another lodger coming to the cottage: Maribel Claus.
Short as a stump, round as a wheel, sweet as a candy cane, and a sharp as a whip, Maribel loves a good puzzle. But has she finally met her match at Plum Cottage?
Can you figure out whodunit before Maribel does? If you’re up to the challenge, here’s your first clue—the key to unlocking the secret of the murderer’s identity lies in figuring out how the murders were committed. Good luck!
About the Author
T.C. Wescott was born in Missouri but has lived in Oklahoma most of his life. Like pretty much every author who has ever breathed, he is an avid reader. His favorites are classic mysteries from the Golden Age, as well as just before or just after that period (which is widely considered the period between the two World Wars). His first mystery novel, Running from Scissors, was published in July 2018 and will be the first of at least three books in the Running Store Mystery series.
The Christmas Village Mystery series will launch in November of the same year with the debut title Slay Bells. The formula for his books is simple – mixing the classic, traditional detective fiction standards with all the trappings of the modern cozy mystery.
Wescott is also (under another name) the author of two award-winning non-fiction books as well as a slew of essays and articles.
Follow on GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18176277.T_C_Wescott
Purchase Link – Amazon
Review of Slay Bells
Review (4 Stars): Slay Bells was a delightfully charming whodunnit with a quirky cast of characters that kept me guessing and in stitches until the very end. I loved meeting Maribel and Rose in Slay Bells and wished that I had a wonderful friend such as Maribel to help out when I needed it. Maribel was a fun character that had great intuition and I loved how she always seemed to figure things out before anyone else did.
Slay Bells is the first book in the Christmas Village Mystery series and I think that this series is off to a great start. I had a little difficulty in the beginning of the book figuring out all the lodgers that were staying at Plum Cottage but that didn’t take away from this entertaining mystery. Looking forward to the next book in the series and what trouble Maribel finds herself in next.
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