"The Notorious Noel Caper" By Sally Carpenter: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Lights! Camera! …Murder!

Sandy Fairfax (Bio: Stanford Ernest Farmington Jr.) hit the big time as a teen idol with a popular 1970s television show, Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth, along with an accompanying singing career, but all that fame came with its failures: addiction, divorce, busted career, and alienation of family and friends. But, after hitting bottom, with a scar to prove it, Sandy chooses to climb out of his hole, work on his sobriety, foster an honest relationship with his girlfriend Cinnamon, reconnect with family, and put his efforts into a comeback. Of course, there is the occasional challenge including entanglements in a few suspicious deaths and perilous predicaments that garnered him a bit of a reputation as a detective; channeling his on screen persona one might say.

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Image Source Cozy Cat Press
The Notorious Noel Caper
Earns 5/5 Christmas Carols…Entertaining Gem!

It’s December, 1993, and Santa’s Magic Park, a year-round Christmas-themed amusement park, is having a few soft opening events prior to its grand opening in a couple of weeks. Sandy is set to be the master of ceremonies for the Miss North Pole Scholarship Pageant, but first up is a Celebrity Charity Benefit Bowl-athon. The net proceeds are earmarked for local charities, so some of the participants have disabilities, including Sandy’s sister Celeste who is blind. Of course, with all the celebrities, cameras, and reporters roaming around, it is also good PR for the Santa’s Magic Franchise and maybe even Sandy who is vying for a comeback in his career. Sandy didn’t have any desire to participate in the bowling event since his professional rival Doug Shaw was attending, but his sister’s enthusiasm about competing with her Bowler Babes had him reconsidering.

The Snowball Bowling Lanes is a state-of-the-art facility and decked out in all its holiday glory from snowflakes and icicles to banners and twinkling lights, even staff and security are decked out in red and green. It was hard not to get caught up in the festivities, even Celeste and Sandy make a friendly wager about who’ll have the best score. But, things turn sour when Sandy discovers the team he’s on is comprised of Doug Shaw, his nemesis, and Barnaby Falls, one of the short-in-stature celebrities. Unfriendly. Dismissive. Egotistical. When Barnaby Falls goes missing and a power failure delays play, Sandy can only comment that lane thirteen seems to live up to its unlucky reputation. When power is restored to lane thirteen, Barnaby falls out of the pin changer machine…dead! It seems that the “jolliest park in the world” has a dark side.

Christmas-rrific! Sally Carpenter added loads of cozy, holiday fun to the fifth book in her Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Mystery. Although I’m starting well into the series, I worried unnecessarily that I’d be at a disadvantage. Basic background, character connections, and previous struggles were mentioned, without spoilers, to get me quickly engaged and eager to read the rest of the series. With one murder discovered early, a plea for help, an ill-advised arrest, and more dead bodies soon to follow, the investigation takes on a complex, intriguing nature. Sandy’s previous successes with murder investigations has his involvement a foregone conclusion despite family’s strong reservations. The avenues of interest brought out intriguing scenarios from personal relationships and jealousy, business dealings and greed, and of course, since suspects vary from obvious to well hidden, Sandy steps on several toes that put him in danger. Total fun that also included Christmas cheer, choir rehearsals, and lots of family interactions.

Sally Carpenter’s writing style is very entertaining with the 90s vibe, tv/movie industry, holiday songs as chapter titles, and challenges associated with substance abuse recovery and disabilities on display. It was refreshing to have a male lead, and Sandy Fairfax’s realistic flaws and positive moves to correct was a unique element I enjoyed the varied dynamics between siblings and significant others, and the nice wrap up.

Don’t miss the ten-question Teen Idol Quiz at the back of the book! What’s your score?

Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Mystery

The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (2018)

The Sinister Sitcom Caper (2020)

The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper (2020)

The Quirky Quiz Show Caper (2020)

The Notorious Noel Caper (2021)

Be a Big Sally Carpenter Fan!

Sally Carpenter, “Author of Mystery Retro-Cozies,” has two exciting series sending cozy fans into the fun eras with which many baby boomers have personal experience. The 70s are the setting for the delightful Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Mystery, and The Psychedelic Spy Series puts the 60s on parade along with a super-secret spy agency, SIAMESE (Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Surveillance and Espionage), and their new recruit, actress Nicole McNabb.

Facebook: Sally Carpenter

Website: Sally Carpenter

To enter to win an email copy of The Notorious Noel Caper, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "noel,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 10, 2022. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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 use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

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. I have all the books in this series (including this one). I hope this means Carpenter has a new entry coming down the pike.

  2. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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