Zany characters add sparkle to this engaging cozy, where mystery is never in short supply. Richards' latest is witty and entertaining as Aggie Sloan-Wilcox, an affable protagonist and unconventional minister's wife, remodels homes, dabbles in detective work and tries to keep the peace among her holiday visitors.

Aggie is decorating her home for Christmas with the help of her sisters. But when their mother arrives with the women's former foster sister, Ginger, one sister, Sid, becomes furious. Ginger was always a thorn in her side when the two were growing up. She often broke Sid's toys and later stole her high school boyfriend.

Aggie's holiday open house turns disastrous when Sid pushes Ginger into a punch bowl after she kisses Sid's boyfriend under the mistletoe. So naturally, Sid becomes the chief suspect when Ginger is murdered, and Aggie must prove that someone else committed the crime. (Berkley Prime Crime, Dec., 272 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick