My Rating: 4 Stars A special thank you to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Nice front cover!
Talented Ace Collins
returns following The Color of Justice,
landing on my Top Books of 2014
and Hollywood Lost,
with a delicious complex whodunit Christmas murder mystery- THE FRUITCAKE MURDERS.Infused with historical
significance, wit, and nostalgia from the era of the 1920s-1940s with a noir type classic detective mystery; from postwar Chicago, gangsters, Santas, Capone, and a colorful cast of three main characters— to keep things interesting: a tenacious reporter, a romantic PI, and a detective,struggling with his war memories.A nice touch:
Ace dedicates the novel to the late Glenda Farrell who played the reporter Torchy Blane in the classic mystery movies of the 1930s--no one talked faster and entertained any better. As the book opens
it is Thursday, December 23, 1926 in wintry Chicago, as Jan Lewandowski, age 56 made his way out in the cold for the twenty-block walk through the city’s Little Italy to the small candy factory he started when he emigrated from Poland in 1905. Father of teenage son, Szymon, mentally disturbed, and eight-year old Alicija.
The candy maker noticed a stranger leaving Lombardi’s Grocery and Produce, always exhibiting his prize fruitcakes, and his newest culinary creation displayed. He notices the cakes are not there. He decides to pop in to see Geno. However, what he finds is Geno bleeding on the floor, a knife, and a stranger he had seen only moments before, and a child in the corner?
He grabbed the seven inch blade from the dead man’s back and goes to look at the at the cash register. Why would someone do this and not take the money? Now, in walks Chicago’s finest and he is left standing there over the cash register with a bloody knife in his hand. Talking about wrong place, wrong time.
Wrongly executed for a crime he did not commit. Flash forward to Dec 18, 1946, Chicago
where we meet Lane Walker, a thirty-something marine officer, turned homicide detective. Here as Christmas draws near in the Windy City, three men have been murdered, including the District Attorney. Oddly, the only connection between the crimes – a 20-yr old unopened fruitcake tins manufactured by a company that is no longer in business.
"This holiday was going to be anything but bright. Death had a way of stealing the light even from Christmas." Let the mystery begin
— Meet Tiffany Clayton, a feisty sexy driven journalist with the Chicago Star, looking for a good juicy story, and quite entertaining when paired with a hard boiled detective Lane, suffering from PTSD from WWII, and Lane’s old military friend, Brent, an undercover PI, all caught up in the mystery. Add into the mix,
mobsters, need for revenge, shady Santa’s, and lots of witty banter between the three main characters. A murder weapon is a fruitcake. From a decades old murder, three new ones, suspense, intrigue, mystery, comedy, and an array of suspects. A love triangle, and lots of entertainment!Lane and Tiffany
have a unique relationship—(Loved the dialogue between the two). Tiffany trying to make a way in a man’s world, and Lane is deeply affected by his war experience. In addition to the three main characters we meet an array of colorful characters: Judge Jacobs, Jim, the homeless man, and Sister Ann. A huge fan of Ace Collins’
a master storyteller, he creates vivid settings drawing you into the era of days gone by, as we relive these exciting, yet turbulent times. Three veterans in the story, each bringing war home in different ways. A battlefield, where the enemy lies. Personal wars. A web of deceit. In addition to the entertaining mystery, at the root of the story is a valuable spiritual lesson.
"In the end good always triumphs over evil and the light comes to the darkness. " For fans of fun Christmas murders, seasonal humor, and lovers of classic detective mysteries, and a scandalous whodunit!