Santa Clawed

June 26, 2010 - Santa Clawed (Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown). Monks are being murdered in this holiday-themed book featuring Harry Haristeen, her pets and several of the familiar residents of Crozet, VA. Harry discovers the first monk, Brother Christopher, when she heads to the order's tree farm to get a Christmas tree. His throat has been slit and an ancient coin placed under his tongue. A second monk is soon murdered in similar fashion. The third victim is a well-known cardiologist.

Harry agrees to stay out of the police investigation. But, when her pets find a toolbox filled with cash, they lead Harry to the site. She's promptly clocked on the head with a gun. Her pets help rescue her then, and they do the same later on when Harry's life is once again in danger.

Despite the fact that Harry really has no role in solving the mystery here (in fact, no one "solves" it per se), the book is a quick read and I never felt the urge to not finish it. The only thing that bothers me is that the significance of the ancient coins is never really explained. We know what they symbolize, but the killer's motive for using them remains a mystery.