As Christmas 1946 draws near, thirty-something marine officer-turned-homicide detective Lane Walker has his hands full. Three men with seemingly no relationship to each other have been murdered, including the powerful District Attorney. The only connection between the crimes? The weapons: twenty-year-old unopened fruitcake tins manufactured by a company that is no longer in business.
While some foods may be to die for, fruitcake isn’t one of them! This heaping helping of murder will be no easy task for Walker, and he certainly doesn’t need the determined and feisty Tiffany Clayton, the political reporter for The Chicago Star, getting in the way.
Employing witty dialogue and historical accuracy, The Fruitcake Murders offers equal parts murder, mystery, and mayhem in a perplexing whodunit set in the days just after World War II.
What does a murder in 1926 have to do with three murders twenty years later? On the surface, there’s nothing except they took place in the same city. Walker and Clayton have an antagonistic past, but come together at a crime scene where a mystery call sends them into danger. The idea of a fruitcake tin as a weapon seems surreal, but an investigation into the maker of the fruitcake reveals that he was executed for a crime he possibly didn’t commit.
Trying to unravel the plot and the motivation for the murders was confusing but, somehow, Ace Collins managed to weave it all together in a way that made sense. It included links to the Chicago mob (featuring Al Capone), the impact World War Two had on the men who came home from the Pacific, a nun serving the undesirables of the city, and people being alone at the holidays. One of my favorite scenes was a conversation about Christmas between Tiffany and a cab driver which became a turning point for the reporter. Mixed in with the fruitcake madness was a storyline about mysterious Santas collecting money on the streets of the Windy City. It is resolved, but asks the eternal question of is it okay to do the morally right thing when it’s legally wrong?
The Fruitcake Murders is a nostalgia piece. Imagine it starring James Stewart as Walker, Ruth Hussey as Tiffany, and Cary Grant as the private investigator caught up in the mix. (If you’ve seen The Philadelphia Story you’ll have seen how these three worked off each other.) There is unresolved romance, which I actually liked as it didn’t steal the show. There’s also a cheesy, but beautiful, ending – just right for Christmas Eve. Where are those snowflakes over the rolling movie credits when you need them?
Thank you to Abingdon Press for my complimentary electronic Advance Reading Copy of The Fruitcake Murders, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Have you read The Fruitcake Murders? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: 06 October 2015
Page Count: 320