Title: The Christmas Tree Thief
Author: Phillipa Nefri Clark
Published: December 3rd 2019
Publisher: Self Published
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical, Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Meet Charlotte Dean. She’s moved to the picturesque town of Kingfisher Falls to leave behind her troubled past as a psychiatrist.
Charlotte has a great view of the town from the balcony above the bookshop. What she doesn’t expect to see is someone stealing Christmas trees from shop windows.
Suspicion falls on the new family running the struggling Christmas Tree farm. Is this a stunt to increase their sales? Charlotte disagrees. But she’s not getting involved. Not when the local police officer already thinks she’s up to no good.
But when the bookshop becomes a target, Charlotte is forced to reconsider her hands-off policy, even if it means putting herself in danger.
The Charlotte Dean Mysteries are set around the beautiful Macedon Ranges in Australia. They feature quirky small-town characters, stunning locations, and whodunits with a dash of danger.
‘Something was very wrong in Kingfisher Falls. Charlotte didn’t know what was going on, but there was more to this break in than a simple desire to take a Christmas Tree.’
The Christmas Tree Thief is the opening book in Phillipa Nefri Clark’s new Charlotte Dean series. Set against a stunning small town stage, featuring a cast of eclectic and memorable characters, The Christmas Tree Thief will wrap you up in plenty of festive themed mystery.
When The Christmas Tree Thief opens, Kingfisher Falls, based in the Macedon Ranges, has welcomed a new community member into its small fold. Charlotte Dean arrives and takes up a position at the local bookshop. Little is revealled about Charlotte in the beginning of this tale, we know she is a former psychiatrist, escaping her past. Soon after her arrival, Charlotte inadvertently becomes embroiled in a local mystery. From the balcony window of the bookshop, Charlotte spies a figure stealing Christmas trees from shop windows. She is shocked and immediately feels compelled to get to the bottom of this strange mystery. With the local police displaying very little interest, Charlotte takes it upon herself to crack this baffling case. Initially, Charlotte’s suspicions fall on the local Christmas tree farm, but there is no hard evidence to link this business to the crime. As Charlotte digs deeper, the bookshop becomes the latest victim of the cunning thief. Danger lurks around the corner for the newest resident of Kingfisher Falls, in this perplexing Christmas based mystery.
Christmas Eve proved to be the perfect time to read The Christmas Tree Thief, written by Australian author Phillipa Nefri Clark. This new novel from Phillipa Nefri Clark marks the first book in an introductory series featuring Charlotte Dean. The Christmas Tree Thief is a book filled with festivity, mystery, intrigue, suspicion and small town community politics. It was an intriguing read, that definitely kept me occupied over the Christmas holiday break.
Charlotte Dean is the lead of this new tale from Phillipa Nefri Clark. Charlotte has appeared briefly in previous books by Phillipa Nefri Clark, but this is her first outing as a full scale lead protagonist. There are also some gentle references to characters from other books by this author, but the action is based around Charlotte this time around. Charlotte is an appealing lead, but she is shrouded in a mask of mystery pertaining to her past. Charlotte did seem to keep us in the dark a fair bit, especially about her mysterious background. I do feel there is plenty of room for growth around this character and an opportunity to expose the reader to her interesting past. I thought it was brave of Charlotte to take on The Christmas Tree Thief crime almost single handedly, without the assistance of the local law enforcement! She certainly puts herself on the firing line and sacrifices her safety for the good of the new community in which she has settled!
Kingfisher Falls was a truly delightful and evocative Australian setting. I am not familiar with the Macedon Ranges region in which Kingfisher Falls, the prime locale of this book is set. The Christmas Tree Thief immersed me in this picturesque part of Australia, I would love to take a visit to this area one day in the future, minus the crime element though! Phillips Nefri Clark evokes the natural beauty of this part of our country and it provides a fabulous festive backdrop for this book.
The mindset and actions of a small town plays a significant part in The Christmas Tree Thief. We bear witness to the small town mentality, gossip and community banding evident in Kingfisher Falls. Many members of the local community that pop up during the course of this novel provide plenty of interest and intrigue in the unfolding story. Phillipa Nefri Clark has definitely plucked out a wide ranging collection of characters to fill the pages of The Christmas Tree Thief, making this novel an engaging read from start to finish.
In terms of the mystery side of things, The Christmas Tree Thief embodies the classic cosy mystery genre, with a distinct Australian flavour. The case presented in this book was puzzling, providing the reader with plenty of entertainment value. When I reached the conclusion, I wasn’t too surprised by the turn of events that led to the unmasking of the identity and the intent of the ‘Christmas Tree Thief’.
Phillipa Nefri Clark has left it wide open for further exploration of the character of Charlotte Dean to continue on for more mystery and mayhem in Kingsfisher Falls. I look forward to another issue in this series!
The Christmas Tree Thief by Phillipa Nefri Clark was published on December 3rd 2019 by the author, details on how to purchase the book can be found on the author’s website here.
*With thanks to the author, Phillipa Nefri Clark, for providing me with a copy of this novel, in exchange for an honest review.
The Christmas Tree Thief is book #155 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge