GOODBYE NOEL by Nike Chillemi ~ a Christmas/New Year whodunit
For some readers there’s nothing better than murder at Christmas with a detective slogging through snow drifts chasing after a killer. If that’s you, then check out GOODBYE NOEL, set in the mid-1940s on the south shore of Long Island. You’ll be mesmerized by the lingo, fashion, cars, and culture of the era.
The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?
Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.
Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?
Of course, Gracie, our little Christmas angel was around in the 1940s and particularly recalls the jolly merriment at Christmas in America then, and also the reverence. So, she’s interested in interviewing an author who writes about that time period and finding out what makes her tick.
Gracie: Are you a Christmas fanatic…a real crazy? Or is your approach more down to earth and relaxed?
Nike: Not a real crazy, but I’d say I’m determined. I do things a certain way every year. The outside lights go up first. My porch and the postage stamp front yard we have here in Gotham are done in burgundy-red with a lot of white lights. Both miniature lights and then huge bulbs on the small fir trees and bushes. Then I come inside and start on the interior which is all in traditional Christmas-red, green, white, with dashes of silver and gold. I do the staircase first, every year. Then the diningroom, the kitchen, the living room. I also put up a few decorations upstairs. The last thing to go up is the tree. My youngest is always after me to get the tree up early, but I won’t. When I was a child we put a live tree up on Christmas Eve and took it down after Epiphany. I put up a faux tree, but it still goes last, usually a few days before Christmas Eve. I have ornaments from my mom, my grandmother, one of my aunts, and my mother-in-law. The story of our family is told in all the decorations I put away every year, only to take out the next year.
Gracie: Do you have a particular Christmas tradition? Perhaps something handed down from generation to generation?
Nike: Both my husband’s family and mine always had a meatless meal on Christmas Eve. We continue that in our house. Since my husband is Italian-American, I have been making seafood and pasta for the last few years. Before that, I was serving perogis in a butter sauce with sour cream, which come from my Eastern European side of the family.
Gracie: Have you ever done something unusual or totally out of character for Christmas?
Nike: Well, I don’t know how unusual this is, but it’s a tradition that our immediate family started. This wasn’t handed down to us. Every year we drive to the big mall on Long Island, not so much to shop, but to catch a Christmas movie and have dinner at a nice restaurant. While we’re there we’ll pick a few odds and ends up at the mall if we have to get something, but that’s almost an after thought.
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