Merchant of Menace
'Tis the season to be jolly, and Jane Jeffry is racing to finish her cookie baking, fruit-compoting, house-cleaning, and shopping madness before the arrival of her teenage kids and no less than two moms - her late husband's and the disapproving mater of her significant other, Det. Mel VanDyne. The kitchen's a disaster, her smelly wet dog is decorating the house with hair, and the earsplitting music coming from the neighbor's tacky plastic Christmas display is driving her loony. But, as her friend Shelley points out, if Jane can just get the green icing out of her hair, she'll be ready to hostess her post-caroling dinner party.
What Jane is definitely not ready for is the arrival of Santa Claus, who turns out to be a muckrakig TV "Action reporter" in a red suit - complete with camera crew. This nasty Ol' St. Nick can be counted on to wrap a happy holiday happening into a package marked "scandal", but before he has a chance to color the caroling event with his own sleazy brand of yellow journalism, his red-suited body slides off the neighbor's roof to land, silenced forever, on the horns of a plastic reindeer.
It looks like Santa's mishap is no accident and, with the help of her friend Shelley, Jane goes looking for the Grinch who thought murder was a way to save Christmas. The list of suspects is longer than a holiday wish list and includes an ex-wife who hated him once, a female assistant who hates him now, and a chorus of nice people ruined by his tales of naughtiness. And, of course, there's no telling how the neighbors feel about a sneaky Santa eavesdropping at their chimney and killing the lead reindeer in their display...
Wenn noch irgend jemand irgend einen Zweifel daran haben sollte, daß Jill Churchill die Königin der skurrilen Todesarten, absonderlichen Verdächtigen, abstrusen und doch in sich so logischen Motive ist, dann ist dies spätestens mit dem vorliegenden Abenteuer von Jane Jeffries ausgeräumt.
Und wer bei alledem und alledem immer noch den Anflug eines Wunsches verspürt, eine Weihnachtsparty, mit Freunden und Verwandten - und vielleicht einem Überraschungsgast - zu veranstalten, dem ist nicht mehr zu helfen.