Cover image for The merchant of menace : a Jane Jeffry mystery
The merchant of menace : a Jane Jeffry mystery
Churchill, Jill, 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Avon Twilight, 1998.
Physical Description:
214 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



It's Christmas season, and Jane Jeffry has guests coming, cookies baking, and music blaring from the next-door neighbor's garishly decorated house. But what's worse is the obnoxious, muck-raking TV reporter who arrives to do a piece on Jane's nice little neighborhood caroling party and decides that he'll play Old St. Nick. When his red-suited body slides off the neighbor's roof and lands, silenced forever, on top of a fallen plastic reindeer, it looks like the mishap was no accident, and Jane has to solve the mystery of who killed Santa Claus.

Author Notes

Jill Churchill (born Janice Young Brooks) on January 11, 1943 in Kansas City, Missouri. She earned a degree in education from the University of Kansas in 1965 before teaching elementary school. Between 1978 and 1992, she was book reviewer for the Kansas City Star. She published several historical novels under her real name before introducing a new series in 1989. This mystery series follows Jane Jeffry, a widow with three children in Chicago. With her neighbor and best friend, she gets involved in murder cases. The novel titles are puns on literary works and reflect Jeffry's cozy domestic life which she leads between crime-solving episodes.

Churchill is the winner of the Agatha and Macavity Awards for her first Jane Jeffrey novel and was featured in Great Women Mystery Writers in 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Another mystery-lite in the series that includes A Quiche before Dying. It's Christmastime in the Chicago suburbs, where widowed Jane Jeffry is giving both the cookie exchange party and the neighborhood caroling party, while worrying about meeting her sweetie Mel's mother. She is horrified to learn that Lance King, the local network trash reporter, will cover the caroling party, presumably to expose the seamy underside of suburban life. King is murdered that night with a piece of the garish Christmas lights display on the rented house next to Jane's. There are so many whose lives have been slimed by King that cop Mel has no shortage of suspects. Jane solves the crime while getting the shopping and baking done and coping with the pressures of both Mel's icy mom and her own ex-mother-in-law. Churchill panders to her audience pretty shamelessly in this rather wobbly mystery, but like holiday nibblers devouring a plate of Christmas cookies, readers will be surprised to discover they've read every page. (Reviewed October 1, 1998)0380975696GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

It's the Yuletide season, and widowed Jane Jeffry has her hands full in this 10th installment of the punningly titled series (Fear of Frying, 1997). Not only is Jane hosting two neighborhood parties, but she will meet the mother of her significant other, police detective Mel, for the first time. Adding to the holiday confusion, the Johnsons move in next door and go overboard lighting up their entire house with garish Christmas decorations. Trying to be helpful, one of Jane's friends invites intrusive and often inaccurate TV reporter Lance King to Jane's caroling party. Appalled, Jane makes the woman rescind the invitationÄbut to no avail as Lance shows up anyway, intimating that he has a shocking disclosure to make about one of Jane's neighbors. Before he can spill the beans, however, Lance is pushed to his death from the Johnsons roof. Jane and her best friend, Shelley, much to Mel's dismay, decide to find out who had a secret so dire that they'd murder Lance to keep it quiet. The friends unearth a slew of suspects, and all the while, Jane dodges the potential disasters associated with hosting holiday events and entertaining a potential mother-in-law while keeping track of her own three children. In the end, levelheaded, redoubtable Jane weathers the storms, identifies the killer and manages to have a happy holiday season as well. This is standard, lighthearted caper fare from the ableÄand very popularÄChurchill. Agent, Faith Childs. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A muckraking journalist crashes series heroine Jane Jeffrey's (Fear of Frying, LJ 10/1/97) holiday party looking for nasty gossip. The man's subsequent murder leads Jane and friend Shelley into a covey of likely suspects. A welcome addition to the series. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.