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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Fruitcake Murders

By Ace Collins ISBN: 9781426771897

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Publication Date: 10/6/2015

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

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 Betsy Clayton, the political reporter for The Chicago Herald, 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.

My Review

A special thank you to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Nice front cover! Talented Ace Collins returns following The Color of Justice, landing on my Top Books of 2014 and Hollywood Lost, with a delicious complex whodunit Christmas murder mystery of greed- THE FRUITCAKE MURDERS. Infused with historical significance, wit, and nostalgia from the era of the 1920s-1940s with a noir type classic detective mystery; from postwar Chicago, gangsters, Santas, Capone, and a colorful cast of three main characters— to keep things interesting: a tenacious reporter, a romantic PI, and a detective,struggling with his war memories. A nice touch: Ace dedicates the novel to the late Glenda Farrell who played the reporter Torchy Blane in the classic mystery movies of the 1930s--no one talked faster and entertained any better. As the book opens it is Thursday, December 23, 1926 in wintry Chicago, as Jan Lewandowski, age 56 made his way out in the cold for the twenty-block walk through the city’s Little Italy to the small candy factory he started when he emigrated from Poland in 1905. Father of teenage son, Szymon, mentally disturbed, and eight-year old Alicija. The candy maker noticed a stranger leaving Lombardi’s Grocery and Produce, always exhibiting his prize fruitcakes, and his newest culinary creation displayed. He notices the cakes are not there. He decides to pop in to see Geno. However, what he finds is Geno bleeding on the floor, a knife, and a stranger he had seen only moments before, and a child in the corner? He grabbed the seven inch blade from the dead man’s back and goes to look at the at the cash register. Why would someone do this and not take the money? Now, in walks Chicago’s finest and he is left standing there over the cash register with a bloody knife in his hand. Talking about wrong place, wrong timeWrongly executed for a crime he did not commit. Flash forward to Dec 18, 1946, Chicago where we meet Lane Walker, a thirty-something marine officer, turned homicide detective. Here as Christmas draws near in the Windy City, three men have been murdered, including the District Attorney. Oddly, the only connection between the crimes – a 20-yr old unopened fruitcake tins manufactured by a company that is no longer in business. "This holiday was going to be anything but bright. Death had a way of stealing the light even from Christmas." Let the mystery begin — Meet Tiffany Clayton, a feisty sexy driven journalist with the Chicago Star, looking for a good juicy story, and quite entertaining when paired with a hard boiled detective Lane, suffering from PTSD from WWII, and Lane’s old military friend, Brent, an undercover PI, all caught up in the mystery. Add into the mix, mobsters, need for revenge, shady Santa’s, and lots of witty banter between the three main characters. A murder weapon is a fruitcake. From a decades old murder, three new ones, suspense, intrigue, mystery, comedy, and an array of suspects. A love triangle, and lots of entertainment! Lane and Tiffany have a unique relationship—(Loved the dialogue between the two). Tiffany trying to make a way in a man’s world, and Lane is deeply affected by his war experience. In addition to the three main characters we meet an array of colorful characters: Judge Jacobs, Jim, the homeless man, and Sister Ann. A huge fan of Ace Collins’ a master storyteller, he creates vivid settings drawing you into the era of days gone by, as we relive these exciting, yet turbulent times. Three veterans in the story, each bringing war home in different ways. A battlefield, where the enemy lies. Personal wars. A web of deceit. In addition to the entertaining mystery, at the root of the story is a valuable spiritual lesson. "In the end good always triumphs over evil and the light comes tot he darkness. " For fans of fun Christmas murders, seasonal humor, and lovers of classic detective mysteries, and a scandalous whodunit!

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About the Author

Citing his Arkansas heritage, Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. In that capacity, Ace Collins has authored more than seventy books for 25 different publishers that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play.

In 2015 Ace is releasing to new novel. Hollywood Lost is a mystery set against the backdrop of the motion picture business in 1936 and The Fruitcake Murders is a comedy/whodunit that takes place in Chicago in the days just after World War II. In 2014 Collins had three new projects released. Man’s Best Hero, a bestselling book on dog heroes generated interest well beyond the dog community. A courtroom novel, The Color of Justice, examining racial prejudice in 1964, earned incredible reviews and has be targeted by book clubs in 2015. Website- Read More






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