A few days before Christmas, bookseller Claire Malloy determines that she has heard one too many comments about being set in her ways. To quiet such complaints she accepts an invitation from an eccentric customer to a New Age celebration of the winter solstice. An early morning adventure with Malthea, Arch Druid of the Sacred Grove of Keltria, should have been enough to prove that Claire has not yet settled into middle-aged complacency. But the morning's activities provide more than she bargained for once one of Malthea's followers turns up dead. Our heroine sets out to determine whether her new acquaintances are murderous Satanists or only very odd, and, in the process, to discover just who shot whom. Holly Jolly Murder is Joan Hess's 12th mystery featuring Book Depot proprietor and attractive widow Malloy as an inadvertent sleuth. Better known are Hess's Maggody books, which richly parody livin', dyin', and prayin' in the backwoods of Arkansas. The Malloy series is similarly witty, but its humor is a bit more subtle and less predictable than that of its country cousin. The college town that Malloy inhabits allows for occasional digs at academia as well as a broader range of quirky and seemingly less contrived characters--a Druid priestess being the obvious example. In Holly Jolly Murder, Hess has set the stage for Claire to come into her own as an accidental detective (lover-policeman Peter is conveniently away for the holidays) with suitably festive results.