Readers are not naughty but nice as they are gifted with the much anticipated sequel to Nikki LeClair’s delightful cozy mystery Haunting Me. In the wonderfully titled Locking Up Santa, LeClair continues the saga of legal assistant turned CEO Phoebe Mercer and her ghostly companion, the formidable Edie Edwards.
Unfortunately, Christmas cheer will be in short supply this year for Phoebe as she is forced to navigate heartache in both her personal and professional life. The recently installed CEO of Edie’s beauty empire Lavish Looks is viewed as inexperienced and incompetent by the board of directors and the public. Yet, Fate sets a domino of disasters in play when the company’s image is tarnished by an employee who is accused of a crime and is tried and convicted in the court of public opinion (with a little help from social media). It’s up to Phoebe (with help from Edie) to find the evidence to clear the employee and to save Lavish Looks. On the romantic front, Phoebe wrestles with her feelings for Porter. Locking Up Santa is a worthy successor to Haunting Me with its great characters, humor and suspense.
What I found most enjoyable about Locking Up Santa is that LeClair acknowledges that Phoebe and Edie are the lifeblood of the book and consequently, her writing effectively demonstrates her skill and enjoyment of writing for these characters. LeClair didn’t choose to rest on the laurels of Haunting Me by making the sequel a carbon copy of its predecessor. Instead, LeClair put Phoebe and Edie in a new and intriguing scenario that allowed their relationship to grow. Along with the goal of their investigation of helping a wrongly accused friend and restoring Lavish Looks reputation and standing in the business community, readers quickly realize that Phoebe needs Edie’s guidance to assist her as Phoebe also juggles personal demands. There is a certain mystique surrounding Edie’s nephew Porter and what role he will play in Phoebe’s life. In addition, Phoebe’s own family ties are about to become more conflicted. Further, Phoebe witnesses friendships tested.
Foreshadowing, an ingredient of a well developed book, is beautifully utilized in Locking Up Santa. The pacing is appropriate enabling the various twists and turns to evolve naturally. Readers will be surprised with what LeClair does here as the truth regarding the true identity of the criminal mastermind is revealed. Finally, a powerful cliffhanger will have readers on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the third book in this series.
Locking Up Santa has everything: incredible writing, marvelous characters and plot, humor and suspense. This sequel is one cozy mystery in which readers will gratefully wrap their attention.