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Treacherous Toys
A Renaissance Faire Mystery #5
Joyce and Jim Lavene

Sept 2012/ ISBN 978-0-425-25158-4
Mystery/Amateur Sleuth / Holiday: Christmas

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Josie Morton has spent many a summer at the Renaissance Faire Village as she works on her dissertation on “The Proliferation of Medieval Crafts in Modern Times.” This working visit is different, because it is held during the Christmas season and the atmosphere is highly charged with anticipation.

Santa’s workshop is all set up and Josie will be an apprentice to Chris Christmas aka Santa. His wife and children also work the Christmas crowds, making toys and selling pictures of children on Santa’s lap. For once Josie believes she will have a hectic but safe adventure at the faire.

Her belief is short-lived when Chris Christmas himself is shot and killed in his own workshop. With a reputation for being a “ladies man”, there is the potential for a long list of suspects. Jilted lovers, jealous husbands or boyfriends, or even the Santa who takes over the job at the faire could be responsible for the untimely death of the village Santa. Yet the police are looking closer to home and his wife, Christine is arrested. This leaves Josie and her boyfriend, the village bailiff, Chase Manhattan, to take care of the eight Christmas children while searching for a more viable killer. Josie doesn’t want to believe that Christine could have killed her philandering husband, but if not, who did?

I always learn a lot from the Renaissance Faire Mystery series. It was a nice change of pace to read about the village at Christmas time. I learned how the artificial snow is made and how a skating rink is kept frozen from below, necessary because the village is set in the warm climate of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. More importantly, I learned that the Christmas spirit can thrive despite tragedy and that people will pick themselves up and carry on when they have to.

I was also reminded that in mystery books there often will be a miracle, and it doesn’t always have to be the holiday season for said miracles to occur. The miracle in Treacherous Toys is that Josie Morton survives against all odds. Even when she put herself deliberately in danger, and as expected, had let her cell phone die, and of course, had not told anyone she was sneaking out to face the killer on her own.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the series and enjoyed this book. I just had to ramp up my willing suspension of disbelief to get past the protagonist’s lack of concern for her own safety. The mystery is a good one, the cast of characters is fun, and the setting of the village faire is colorfully described. Longtime fans of the series won’t want to miss this special holiday story.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Wicked Weaves #1
Harrowing Hats #4

Reviewer Laura Hinds is the author of Are You Gonna Eat That Banana?
Reviewed 2012