Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Murder Fir Christmas by Joyce and Jim Lavene - #Review #Giveaway

Down the mountain from Sweet Pepper, Tennessee is Christmas Tree Valley, a place filled with hundreds of Christmas tree farms where generations of growers have made people’s lives brighter. Yet even here in this quiet, postcard-perfect corner of the world, darkness and murder can still stalk the night.

Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle has always had a special gift with wild animals. It was one of the reasons she decided to train with the wildlife agency. She’s spent the last ten years in Alabama working, but her mother needs her home and she’s back despite all the bad parts of her life she hoped to leave behind.

Her first day home begins with a fire on the island in Sweet Pepper Lake and the death of Harvey Shelton, the wildlife agent she’s supposed to replace. Bonnie manages to rescue dozens of animals from the fire – including a wolf pup that was shot with the same bullet that killed Harvey.

Now she’s hot on the trail of Harvey’s killer and trying to reintegrate the wolf back into the wild even though he seems to want to stay with her. Yet old memories persist in the small community where she grew up, and the killer now seems to believe that she has what he killed Harvey for. All she has to do is figure out what that is before it’s too late.



Bonnie Tuttle was one of those teens who wanted the heck out of Sweet Pepper, TN.  But while most of the young folks wanted out because they did not care for small town life in general, Bonnie got pregnant out of wedlock, the 'boy' deserted her when she would not get an abortion and then the child passed away due to complications of being premature.

And now she's back.  Talk about strength of character!  When I was a teenager, I probably would have wanted to get out of there myself.  (Now, of course, approaching middle age, and channeling my husband's paternal grandmother, I would just tell everybody what they could do with their little opinions!)

Then there's the first-day-on-the-job from HELL!  (Not that the job was bad.  Bonnie was the area Federal Wildlife Agent and she loves animals.)  But the first day - oy!  Big fire on an island in the nearby lake, need to rescue wild animals from said fire, captured fugitive shot and killed, the man (Harvey) whom Bonnie was replacing was shot and killed, and Bonnie now has a wild wolf pup as a roomie.  She couldn't even get home because the road to her mother's house in Christmas Tree Valley was iced over and impassable.  So, she spends the first night back in someone's heated truck to keep an eye on the injured wolf (who was shot as well as being burned in the fire).

Now, I've had some bad jobs and some bad days on bad jobs, but my experiences pale in comparison!

And that's just the evening and the morning being the first day.  Bonnie came back home because her mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and while doing well so far, cannot really live by herself anymore.  To top that off, on the way into town, Bonnie sees and older Native American gentleman,  who calls her by a strange name and then all of a sudden disappears.

I like the way the 'paranormal' (for lack of a better word) is handled in Murder Fir Christmas.  Some folks in Sweet Pepper and Christmas Tree Valley believe, and some do not.  Bonnie starts out a firm disbeliever, but too many out of the ordinary occurrences happen:  Harvey's body disappears from the ice house where it is being stored until it can be transferred to the coroner who serves the town.  Injured animals keep finding their way in front of Bonnie and seem to understand what she says to them.  And the locals say the ghost of the former fire chief has taken a shine to Bonnie - and that's before we even know just how much he fits into the picture!

There's a pretty cool (no pun intended) small-town Christmas Eve celebration in the town of Christmas Tree Valley, complete with live Nativity scene with chickens and sheep (but no ostrich) that will warm hearts and souls all around.

If you want (or need) to get into the Christmas spirit, Murder Fir Christmas will have you humming carols and ho-ho-ho-ing quicker than the Big Guy's sled makes it around the world!  There seems to be indication at the end of the story that Bonnie will be on the job for a while.  I know I'll be sending my letter to the North Pole with wishes for her continued employment.  Santa knows best. ;)



Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

NOTE:  Kudos for Team Lavene pulling together this last month and continuing to spread the joy of their books to their fans and the reading public.  Joyce passed away suddenly in October and my heart goes out to her family.



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Click on the logo to visit the tour page, where you will find links to about a gazillion reviews.  You can also get information about becoming a virtual book tour host yourself!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the authors and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my objective review.  This post may contain affiliate links.)


  1. Thanks for sharing. We really appreciate it.

  2. Every book I've read written by Joyce and Jim Lavene has been awesome!

  3. Wonderful feature and giveaway. Love their books. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. This is a wonderful book!

  5. I loved your early series. This one sound great too. Count me in.

  6. I think this books shows you how murder can truly happen anywhere in the world - even in those quiet places that often go unheard of.

  7. Yup, Olivia-Savannah, sometimes small towns or rural areas can be a dangerous as big cities!