Sam Shovel only comes to life for twelve days a year at Christmastime, and this year, he’s in time to solve a murder mystery at the North Pole. O. Tannenbaum—the world’s largest supplier of Christmas trees—has been murdered, and although Nick and Nora Claus are too busy to solve the mystery, Sam has enough time on his branchy hands to take a stab at it. Woven with enough Christmas references to choke a reindeer, find out if he succeeds in Death of a Christmas Tree Salesman.
“Patricia Meredith’s recipe for a perfect Christmas mystery? Magic with a dash of murder.” —Jess Brady, @jess.literarylife, Bookstagram Reviewer
“I see Sam Shovel right up there with Frosty and Rudolph—he’ll go down in history!” — Kathy Buckmaster
“Cookies, candy, presents…and murder! A holiday mystery that will leave you questioning…and craving sweets!” —Niko Sollazzo, @nikosbookreviews, BookTuber
I absolutely love the title. It might be a top three book title ever. And the red of the cover is great too, so I knew I needed to read it right away this holiday season.
I read this across day 4 and 5 of Covid, in a kind of semi-fugue state, and I think it kind of struck me that the author must have been in something similar to have thought this sucker up…
…joking aside, this is an incredibly clever idea that’s whimsical, fantastical, and original.
It has so many references that I was constantly highlighting and rereading snippets. Perhaps you’ll understand the one below, which was my favorite: “…loose newell post, or cleaning up after the fried cat under the armchair in the lobby, or fixing the furnace, or…” it was like reading one giant Christmas reference and I absolutely loved it. It made the North Pole seem like fantasy, but with references to known culture, pulling it back down towards magical realism at the same time.
With that said, this is a murder mystery! Sam Shovel is a snowman that comes to life every year for the twelve days of Christmas at the North Pole. Not only does he have a knack for detecting, but his corncob pipe biting, fedora wearing antics felt very noir crime novel without his personality being the usual grit.
The author’s knowledge of Christmas, and the actual past history of it, is clearly on display through various characters and traditions. And it was so interesting to see the murder mystery (the murder of O. Tannenbaum) intertwine with them.
The character’s names, all references of their own, should honestly earn the author some kind of award. The book is silly but serious the entire time, and I laughed more than once.
I’m really not sure how, but this is somehow like a warm blanket, a cup of warm coco, and a hug. All while investigating murder. It’s cozy, and feels kind of safe even though it’s mysterious at the same time. It also didn’t read as ‘cozy’ in the kind of corny sense that has begun to be associated with the term. I cannot stress enough how enjoyable this was. Personally a 5/5*. This is a first for me from the author, but with a Hercule Poirot reference, it certainly won’t be the last.