Thursday, September 28, 2017

Mistletoe and Murder by S.L. Smith

Genre:  Adult, Mystery
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads

Auld Lang Syne with a Twist

As Collette Hammond orchestrates an elaborate New Year's Eve wedding reception for her brother in St. Paul's historic Union Depot, she never anticipates the evening might end in her own mysterious death. She collapses just before midnight. A fresh needle mark suggests narcotics. St. Paul police detectives Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney are called away from their holiday celebrations to investigate, launching a trip through a labyrinth of intrigue and deception.

My Thoughts

Collette Hammond is a recovering drug addict. On the night she hosts a wedding reception for her brother she is found dead and suspected of drugs again.  It was as if she led separate lives. People didn’t really know her. As Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney are two detectives who investigate wht looks like an overdose only to find a few surprises. They soon learn it was not due to her using again.  This is a great mystery. It flows smoothly.  Things are tied up neatly at the end. I’ve not read the first three books in the series yet.  It was not hard to follow the action having not read the first three. They work as a stand-alone book.

About the Author
A lifelong resident of Minnesota, S.L. Smith was born in Saint Cloud and attended Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul. The tall iron fence surrounding the campus provided a sense of security for this small-town transplant. Over the next four years, she grew to love the Twin Cities, in part because of the Minnesota Twins and her love for baseball. After graduating, she rented an apartment a few miles from Metropolitan stadium and rarely missed a home game.
During her thirty-two years with the state department of public safety, she worked with law enforcement and fire officials at the state, county and municipal levels. Those interactions assisted her with writing mysteries, but were just the starting point. Without the help of a friend who spent thirty-five years as a cop, she might never have ventured into writing police procedurals. He contributed to her understanding of the perspectives of her two protagonists, Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney. Thankfully, this friend is still a resource. He proofreads each manuscript and performs a reality check on the law enforcement aspects.
Publishing family memoirs helped fine tune her research skills, and taught her to contact everyone involved. She used that tactic on the first Pete Culnane mystery, Blinded by the Sight, and included those who assisted in the acknowledgments. That paid rich rewards as she worked on books two, three, and four in the series. An investigator in the medical examiner’s office provided a foot-in-the-door with the head of homicide at the Saint Paul Police Department, and with a retired investigator (detective).
The Saint Paul Fire Marshall and an emergency medicine physician patiently and graciously answered her questions. Taking it a step further, I spent four days at the State Fair, while working on Murder on a Stick. While there, I spoke with law enforcement and fire officials. I questioned at least fifty food vendors, and an information booth volunteer. A ticket booth supervisor gave me the lowdown on their procedures. True to form, I was bent on getting the facts right. If I didn’t know the answer, I researched it.
Smith’s books are set in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The protagonists, Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney, are two Saint Paul detectives. (The Saint Paul Police Department calls them investigators.) They’re close friends, but as different as parchment and newsprint. Their banter provides humor in the novels.
All three include a social issue. In Blinded by the Sight, it’s homelessness. For book two, Running Scared, it’s the impacts of a failing marriage on the kids. Book three, Murder on a Stick, addresses a plight faced by many of the elderly. Smith is a member of Sisters in Crime (an organization that supports mystery writers). She divides her time between Minnesota and Florida, to care for her mother.

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