Ella pulled her copy out of her bag and opened it at the first page, which to my relief showed only a couple of tiny edits. I’d half-expected to see it covered in red ink with “Must try harder” scrawled across the title page.
Murder In The Manger is the third book in Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Village series but is the first I have read. Sophie has written the Christmas nativity play for her village, Wendlebury Barrow, but the surprise appearance of an ex-boyfriend and a mysterious woman with a baby threaten to ruin the production. Based on the back cover copy—which included the sentence “Before long, the whole village stands accused of murder”—I expected a lot more mystery and mayhem in this novel. What I found instead was a delightful holiday story with moments of suspense tucked in its nooks and crannies. There isn’t much sleuthing or nefarious goings on here, and the murder accusation doesn’t arrive until very near the end of the novel. Admittedly, as someone who adores a good mystery, this is a bit of a letdown, but the story has enough suspense to pull the reader through to the end.
Beyond the lack of real mystery, though, this is a captivating novel with a lovely village setting full of homey little shops and a cozy plot with lots of dry humor. If you are looking for a warm and light holiday mystery to read this Christmas, pick up Murder In The Manger; a visit with Sophie in festive Wendlebury Barrow is just what you need.