Five years after solving the last of a dozen puzzling mysteries, Sadie Hoffmiller helps a dying friend find peace at her final Christmas.
Since surviving a near-death experience at her nuptials (Wedding Cake, 2014), Sadie’s lived happily with her investigator husband, Pete, in Fort Collins, Colorado. With Pete away in Phoenix, Sadie stresses over Christmas plans that will include the children from their blended marriage, all expected for the holiday along with a big snowstorm. Even so, she’s not too busy to spend time with her dear friend and former neighbor Mary Hallmark, who is in a nursing home after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is also almost completely blind. Mary has asked Sadie to retrieve her ornaments from storage to hang on what she knows will be her last tree, one that her great-granddaughter, Joy, found for her. Sadie’s arrival with cookies for Mary and the staff is quickly followed by that of Mary’s daughter, Ivy, with whom she has a rocky relationship. Sadie continues to smooth their little quarrels in hopes that they’ll make peace before Mary dies. As Sadie helps Mary trim the tree, she’s shocked to realize that the ornaments Mary has had since she was a child are rare and valuable. Despite her love for them, Mary is leaving them to Joy, and she wants the girl to sell them for money to go to college. Sadie, a former schoolteacher and private investigator, has been seeking ways to protect the ornaments from harm, and when Joy calls to tell her some of the ornaments are missing, Sadie goes into sleuthing mode in order to find them and save Mary’s Christmas. The suspects include staff, visitors, Ivy, and even Joy’s boyfriend, Frank, who has an arrest record and was in Mary’s room the night of the disappearance. In between worrying about one storm and baking up another, Sadie finds time to solve the mystery.
The joys of Christmas and family almost overwhelm a warmhearted mystery.