As I start this review, I have a bone to pick with the title, The SantaConviction: A Keeping Up With the Joneses Cozy Mystery (which, to save myself keystrokes, I’ll refer to as The SantaConviction from here on out). Firstly, the primary title, The SantaConviction, is a clever play on SantaCon, which kicks off this book’s events. However, ‘conviction’ is not a word I wouldn’t associate with the book: nobody seems to have a great deal of conviction (at least as relevant to the book), and while this is a cosy mystery where you can assume the villain of the piece will be convicted of their crime, this is not part of the book. Secondly, the subtitle, A Keeping Up With the Joneses Cozy Mystery, indicates that the book prominently features multiple Joneses. This is not the case: the protagonist, Marcy, is the point of view character narrating the entire story. But the other Jones, her cousin Holly, is written out of most of the book. While I take no issue with this approach (it does indeed lend itself to the story), it feels odd to market the first book in this series as being about two characters, while focusing on just one. Maybe author Langley Gray could have waited for a subsequent entry to do this.
While I dedicated a ridiculous number of words (217!) to my introductory paragraph / rant, my thoughts about the story itself are a little more positive. I’ll say from the (post-rant) outset that I am not a big reader of cozy mysteries, but am doing my best to not let that impede my thoughts. The SantaConviction is a light, fun cosy mystery; and at the end of the day, that is exactly what the genre is all about.
At 228 pages in paperback, or an estimated 156 Kindle swipes, The SantaConviction tells an enjoyable story without overstaying its welcome. It’s a breezy read that is anything but taxing, something to while away a few hours with, rather than engrossing yourself in for weeks on end. Free of sex and profanity, and largely free of violence (it is a murder mystery after all, and a character is attacked at one point) and drugs (which are shown, without characters using them), this tale relishes being inoffensive.
I opened this review by talking about my issues with the title, however, the blurb is on point; more so than many blurbs that I read. Not only does it articulate the plot while doing an admirable job of selling the book, its tone completely captures the mood and style of Gray’s prose. If you read the blurb and thought this looks like fun, you can rest assured that it is exactly what you will get.
The author has filled the book with fun characters, including the Joneses, and (for want of a better term) sidekick Logan. Characters filling smaller roles in the story, like Marcy’s flatmate, Hugh and supermodel, Natalia, are also fun, managing to keep the reader’s attention. I would have liked these characters to have more depth, however. Both Logan and Holly are known for their love of puns (which may explain the title’s pun, but I get the idea that Gray loves puns herself), and Marcy for her love of coffee. While cosy mysteries are not known for being character studies, but I would have appreciated a little more depth with them.
Looking at author Langley Gray’s Amazon page, she has written a number of romance and cosy mystery stories, across multiple series. While The SantaConviction is most certainly a cosy mystery, it also has romance elements. It is clear from this book that Gray has refined her approach, and tells such stories with ease… or at the very least, writes them in such a way that it appears easy.
However, despite the ease that it appears The SantaConviction was written with, I would have liked a little more suspense, and a little more mystery around the villain’s identity. Unfortunately, I guessed the correct identity early on in the book, and the red herrings did little to dissuade me, or even second guess myself.If you’re a fan of light whodunnits and breezy reads, you will likely find a lot to enjoy about The SantaConviction, a well-written, fun, cosy mystery. If you’re looking for some character arcs, or want a challenge to the mystery, though, you might find yourself a little disappointed.
The people from Australia were tippy top of my list for personality. And blimey if those accents didn’t melt me as soon as I heard them speak. I found myself magnetized to anyone who diligently avoided pronouncing their r’s. Which made Hugh and his accent much more endearing as a roommate.The SantaConviction: A Keeping Up With the Joneses Cozy Mystery, Chapter One
The SantaConviction: A Keeping Up With the Joneses Cozy Mystery was provided by BookSirens for the purpose of an honest review.
The SantaConviction is available in paperback and on Kindle, exclusive to Amazon.
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