"Festive Mayhem 2" Seven Holiday Culinary Cozy Mysteries

Review by Kathleen Costa

Festive Mayhem 2 returns with a second set of cozy mysteries from seven popular authors from the United States and the UK: Paige Sleuth, Francelia Belton, Angela Henry, Rhoda Berlin, Carolyn Marie Wilkins, Barbara Howard, and Stella Oni. Each story grabs you and takes you on a journey with justice served up cozy-style.

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Nefarious New Year: A Cozy Cat Caper Mystery Short by Paige Sleuth  

Heralding in the new millennium is worth lots of celebrating. Imogene Little has gathered together friends and neighbors to enjoy a vegetarian buffet, but one guest seems to have been hitting the bar pretty hard, and it’s difficult to believe his “Gave all that up” response: it’s very suspicious. —Paige Sleuth, aka Marla Bradeen, has penned a delightful millennium mystery with clues that make sense when the cat discovers the evidence and the clock strikes midnight. Earns 5/5 “Wackadoodle” Diets!

The Brotherhood of Tricks and Treats by Francelia Belton 

It’s 1961, and eighteen-year-old Vincent Ballard has finally been invited to hang out with his older brothers; their age difference was always a deterrent for fostering any brotherly bonding and eldest Trenton saw in “V” a real chance at being a baker, so he kept him at adistance. But with Trenton no longer around, their mother out-of-town, the few taunting quips and challenges have the Ballard brothers going to a Halloween costume party! —Francelia Belton has provided a few dangerous twists on “harmless fun.” Earns 5/5 Brotherly Pranks.

Cookies, Lies, & Homicide by Angela Henry

Mercy Davenport lost her husband a bit ago and has a hard time adjusting, so off to the library to check out her favorite books, but instead she ends up with a cute Pomeranian and a murder mystery. —Angela Henry has penned a clever cozy with a firecracker lead, “petty jerk” detective, a nephew, a TV chef, and a little dog as the only witness to the crime. Earns 5/5 Friendly Barks.

Last Bite by Rhoda Berlin

Even with the aroma of “roasting turkey, soy sauce, and red pepper,” the introduction to their future son-in-law was difficult, since Isaac was different…not Korean. But, while enjoying their Thanksgiving fusion, family memories, taunts, regrets, and blame spill out. —Rhoda Berlin has included fascinating insights into this Korean family with a dynamic that leaves you with an “Oh, my!” Earns 5/5 Silver Chopsticks.

A Praline for Pepe: A Carrie McFarland Psychic Mystery by Carolyn Marie Wilkins

It’s November, 1921, and eighteen-year-old Carrie McFarland knows psychics do not have it easy; in truth her novice abilities can be very intense. On her way to visit Sister Marie, her tutor, a racially-charged protest sparks gunfire. Running for safety, she bumps into Monsieur Matisse Guillaume with his parrot Pepe perched on his shoulder. “Trouble, trouble!” it squawks, is putting it mildly as Carrie will discover. —Carolyn Marie Wilkins brings a marvelous cozy with illegal whiskey, death threats, broken promises, and varied auras that may point to a killer. Earns 5/5 Protection Spells. 

A Cup of Secrets: A Finding Home Mystery by Barbara Howard Chelsea Parker’s Christmas Day eighteenth birthday celebration is the most sought after catering gig, and it’s landed in Milo’s and Jules’s hands. Despite being a personal and professional challenge to deal with Ms. Chelsea, the PR will be great for MJ Catering’s bottom line. However, the next day they get disturbing news…”Chelsea. She’s dead!” —Barbara Howard weaves some clever clues from special desserts to place cards, from attitudes to secrets, gripes to revenge to create an entertaining cozy. Earns 5/5 Pink Kisses.

The Jollof Rice and Crayfish Mystery by Stella Oni

The Mews, a luxury guesthouse, is the temporary residence for Chief Arowolo. The wealthy Nigerian normally vacations in summer, but on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday his first wife, Mummy Gold, has arranged for them to enjoy winter holidays in London. However, Chief ends up in the hospital with a severe allergic reaction to the crayfish in the jollof rice Elizabeth, the head housekeeper, was asked to prepare. Despite being ruled an accident by investigators, she knows she didn’t add crayfish to the dish, so who did? —Stella Oni spices up this cozy with a fascinating family dynamic of multiple wives and privileges of wealth. Earns 5/5 Crayfish Conundrums.

Festive Mayhem 2 Earns 5/5 Cozy Delights…Entertaining Fun!

Wow! Marla Bradeen has compiled seven excellent short stories cleverly portraying the surprising nature of various holidays, of course, family dynamics, secrets, justice, and just the right amount of “mayhem” to cause an audible “Oh, my!” Despite each story being short, they are filled with vivid descriptions, engaging banter, and rich characters making each short worth of a longer story—several are from current series. Check out the links to learn about about the author and their work. 

Tasty Bonus! With each story having a culinary element, easy-to-follow recipes directly from one of the short cozies have been included in the back of the book. An photo is added to illustrate the final product. Enjoy: Imogene Little’s No-Bake (and No Poison!) Peanut Butter Balls, Vincent’s Krispie Balls: Salted Caramel Popcorn Cocoa Krispie Treats, Festive Cranberry Date-Nut Doodles from Mercy Davenport, the Korean treat Japchae à la Aunt, Matisse’s Praline King Cake, Pink Kisses from MJ Catering, and Jollof Rice, sans the crayfish, from Elizabeth.

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Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

You can purchase Festive Mayhem 2 on Barnes and Noble online and on Amazon.


Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing Festive Mayhem 2, Kathleen! I'm delighted you enjoyed our stories.


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