The Christmas Murder Game


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Title:

The Christmas Murder Game

Author:

Alexandra Benedict

Release Date:

October 4, 2022

Format:

Trade Paperback

Genre:

Mystery

Sub-Genre:

Christmas, Crime

Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Read-A-Likes:

Summary: Twelve clues. Twelve keys. Twelve days of Christmas. But how many will die before Twelfth Night?

The annual Christmas Game is afoot at Endgame House, the Armitages’ grand family home. This year’s prize is to die for–deeds to the house itself–but Lily Armitage has no intention of returning. She hasn’t been back to Endgame since her mother died, twenty-one years ago, and she has no intention of claiming the house that haunts her dreams.

Until, that is, she receives a letter from her aunt promising that the game’s riddles will give her the keys not only to Endgame, but to its darkest secrets, including the identity of her mother’s murderer.

Now, Lily must compete with her estranged cousins for the twelve days of Christmas. The snow is thick, the phone lines are down, and no one is getting in or out. Lily will have to keep her wits about her, because not everyone is playing fair, and there’s no telling how many will die before the winner is declared.

What I Liked: I admire the creativity and cleverness in this story, from the sonnets written as clues to the game itself.  It takes a special kind of mind to come up with the intricate details that are in this book.  I also enjoyed the basic idea of this book: a scavenger hunt/mystery game to determine who inherits the family home. Lily herself was an interesting character, with several small details added that made her unique, including her odd job.

What I Didn’t Like: Where to begin?  The concept of this book is clever but the execution failed. All of the characters, besides Lily, were one-dimensional and their actions were predictable.  The aunt who orchestrates the game is mentioned as being a loving, wonderful woman who took her niece in as her own but her actions leading up to the beginning of this story are the exact opposite of caring and warm.  I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters and when they started dying, I responded exactly as the rest of the characters did-with a shrug of indifference. I understand that we are meant to believe this is an odd family but no one seems to blink an eye when the bodies start piling up, despite several of them supposedly being close to each other.  And while I can appreciate that a story like this requires a certain suspension of disbelief, the reason everyone is gathered in this house is bonkers and doesn’t make sense.  If Lilliana truly believed that someone in her family was a murderer, why wouldn’t she just tell Lily instead of making her play a game while locked in with people who may be involved in previous family deaths?  It just doesn’t make sense and I couldn’t enjoy the story because of it.

Who Should Read It: Benedict includes a few anagram-type mysteries throughout the story for the reader to discover so anyone looking for a book that has mysteries other than the one on the page may want to pick this one up.

Review Wrap-Up: I wanted to like this book, based on the concept, but nothing came together the way it should have and I found the mystery to be predictable while also not in-depth enough to keep me interested. When Benedict gets it right (Lily’s character, the daily clues) the story can be fun but I can’t recommend this book based on that. 


Favorite Quote:

“Growing up is one long game of Guess Who?-one by one, the family is laid down until there’s only one left”


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