Originally published: 30 Sep 2021
Author: Alexandra Benedict
Published by: Zaffre
Genre: Christmas Murder Mystery
Length: 400 pages
Reading dates: 31 October – 4 November 2022
Twelve days of Christmas.
But who will survive until Twelfth Night?
Lily Armitage never intended to return to Endgame House – the grand family home where her mother died twenty-one Christmases ago. Until she receives a letter from her aunt, asking her to return to take part in an annual tradition: the Christmas Game. The challenge? Solve twelve clues, to find twelve keys. The prize? The deeds to the manor house.
Lily has no desire to win the house. But her aunt makes one more promise: The clues will also reveal who really killed Lily’s mother all those years ago.
So, for the twelve days of Christmas, Lily must stay at Endgame House with her estranged cousins and unravel the riddles that hold the key not just to the family home, but to its darkest secrets. However, it soon becomes clear that her cousins all have their own reasons for wanting to win the house – and not all of them are playing fair.
As a snowstorm cuts them off from the village, the game turns deadly. Soon Lily realises that she is no longer fighting for an inheritance, but for her life.
This Christmas is to die for . . . Let the game begin
For our Christmas book club meeting (which isn’t until 20th December), we always choose a Christmas themed murder mystery. Two of our members read the whole book, and then we tell the rest of the group where to read up to, so on the night we can try and solve the mystery. They have always been great fun before – especially the year where only one member read it and then couldn’t make the meeting, so we didn’t know the outcome!
I was lucky enough to win a beautiful hardback cover of The Christmas Murder Game in a Twitter giveaway so nominated it for our Christmas read and it was chosen.
When Lily Armitage’s aunt and adoptive mum Liliana dies, she leaves a letter. She tells Lily she must return to her childhood home, Endgame House in order to take place in the annual traditional Christmas Game. The Game involves twelve clues, with twelve keys as prizes. The winner of the game wins the deeds to the luxury manor house. Lily has no desire to ever set foot again in the house as it is where her mother committed suicide 21 years ago on Boxing Day. But in the letter, her aunt tells her that in fact her mother was murdered, and the clues will also tell her who it was who killed her.
Lily is shocked to find her mother was murdered and decides to travel to Endgame House in remote Yorkshire to take part in the game. She is determined she doesn’t want the house but does want to find out who murdered her mother and left her body for Lily to find in the maze. On arriving at the house, she meets old childhood friend and now family solicitor Isabella who tells the family the rules of the game – no one is to leave the house until the game is over or they forfeit their claim, and the clues must be solved without help from anyone outside the house (phones are taken away and there is no Wi-Fi). One the last day of the game, the final riddle will lead to a secret room where the deeds to the house will be hidden. Whoever find them first will be the winner and own the house.
The book came with a handy family tree which I referred to a lot in the beginning. Lily is an only child but is joined by her cousins, brother and sister Gray and Sara as well as siblings Thomas, Rachel and Ronnie and their partners. Sara is a nasty piece of work who has no time for the rest of her family while Gray is quiet and seems very much under her control. Both Tom and Ronnie seem lovely and are very fond of Lily as she is of them. As the game progresses, it takes a sinister turn and Lily realises that their lives might all be in danger, especially when they find themselves snowed in and the phone line goes down!
I really enjoyed The Christmas Murder Game, and it was an excellent choice for book club! With a cast of characters, some of whom you love to hate, and puzzles galore, this was a great murder mystery. As well as trying to solve the puzzles to find the keys, Lily is trying to find out who killed her mother and why. I was really rubbish at solving any of the clues (they were really hard!) and to be honest, gave up trying. Lily however was a genius at solving her aunt’s riddles much to Sara’s annoyance. Alexandra Benedict has come up with a fabulous locked-room mystery which I had no hope of solving. There are also some extra clues to solve with anagrams is you are good at that sort of thing but again I didn’t try! I look forward to hearing what the rest of the book club’s thoughts and guesses are in December.
Alexandra Benedict has just released another Christmas book called Murder on the Christmas Express which I’m very keen to read!
Thank you to Zaffre for a copy of the book which I won in a giveaway.
About the author:
Alexandra Benedict has been a composer, singer-songwriter, actor, and lecturer in crime fiction, and is now an award-winning writer of novels, short stories and scripts. As AK Benedict, she writes high-concept novels, speculative short stories and scripts. Her first novel, the critically-acclaimed THE BEAUTY OF MURDER, was nominated for the eDunnit Award; her short stories have featured in many anthologies; and her audio drama has been shortlisted for multiple awards including the BBC Audio Drama Award 2020, and, twice, for the Scribe Award, winning it in 2019. As Alexandra Benedict, she writes contemporary tributes and takes on Golden Age crime fiction. THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME was an Amazon Fiction Bestseller and was long-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Her latest novel, MURDER ON THE CHRISTMAS EXPRESS, arrives on November 10th. She lives on the south coast of England with her fiancé, writer Guy Adams, their daughter, and their dog, Dame Margaret Rutherford.
Wonderful review! I’ve been curious about this book, and I’m definitely adding it to my wishlist now.
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