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Rest You Merry

Narrated by: John McLain
Series: Peter Shandy, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
4 out of 5 stars (195 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For years, Professor Peter Shandy has been badgered by Jemima Ames, Assistant Librarian and Annual Chairperson, to decorate his campus home for the Grand Illumination which is Balaclava Agricultural College's main fund-raising event. Now he can hold out no longer.

Goaded to madness, he buries his small brick house under an avalanche of plastic reindeer, flashing lights, and fake Santa Clauses. Hooks up an amplifier blaring "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth," locks the switches at "on", and escapes to sea on a tramp steamer.

Shipwrecked and conscience-stricken, he crawls back to face his irate colleagues, and finds Jemima Ames dead on his living room floor. Police and security guards say it's an accident; Shandy says it's murder. President Thorkjeld Svenson says he'd better find out the truth without wrecking the Illumination... or the next corpse will be Shandy's.

©1993 Charlotte McLeod (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A classic story - and great for this time of year!

I'm so glad Charlotte MacLeod's mysteries are finally available in audio! I first read this story centuries ago - probably shortly after it was published in 1978 - and I've re-read it every few years since.

The story is set at a small, private agricultural college in New England. At the opening, Professor Peter Shandy has finally decided to take his revenge on all the faculty wives who have been after him for years to decorate his small house for the holidays as part of the college's "Grand Illumination". He hires a firm from Boston to put every flashing colored light, plastic Santa & reindeer, and recorded music device he can fit on his house, sets the timer, and takes off on a holiday cruise! He comes back a few days later to find one of the most persistent busy-bodies dead on his living room floor. It's meant to look like an accident but Shandy knows it can't be, and his efforts to figure out what really happened are the basis of the mystery. Along the way we are introduced to some of the people that live in the small college town of Balaclava - and they have more than their fair share of interesting characters!

This is a classic cozy mystery, the first in a series that is well worth reading or listening to. Some elements are rather dated at this point - no cell phones, for example, and some characters have somewhat dated views - but don't let that bother you. Enjoy meeting the residents of Balaclava, and look forward to more of their exploits!

The narrator of this audio is easy to listen to. He doesn't differentiate the character's voices very much, but it's still easy to keep track of what's going on. One irritant, however, is that he mispronounces words every once in a while, and it can be jarring to the ear. For example, he used the word "crochets" (the needlework) rather than "crotchets" (a quirk or eccentricity). But all in all, a great book to listen to!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 12-03-12

not just for Christmas - but it helps!

This may not get you in a Christmas spirit, but it can ease X-mas headaches. It's a humourous, light campus cozy with a thread of old-fashioned romance.

No offence intended to Americans, but the few U.S. "campus comedies" and campus cozies I've come across just don't compare to most in the British "campus" tradition. Rest You Merry holds it own in both sub-sub-genres. Maybe McLeod's Canadian colonial genes helped her out there!

I've listened to at least one of each of the three MacLeod series on Audible and one other Prof Shandy mystery. This is my favourite to date. I enjoyed the narration. As someone points out in a later Shandy instalment review, McLain produces a couple of weird mispronunciations of isolated and pretty common words. This makes me think he may be site reading, which just raises my admiration for his talent.

As I'm not a fan of Christmas books, I almost skipped this -- but if you like cozies or campus comedies, this will delight no matter the season.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Love the book, disappointed by the narration.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Charlotte MacLeod is my favorite cozy mystery writer. I have read Rest You Merry and the other books in the Peter Shandy series a number of times - I wouldn't change anything.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

As other reviewers have noted, the narrator pronounced certain words very strangely, to the extent that I'm not sure if he is a native English speaker. This audio book was less of a performance and more of a straight reading of the novel by someone who didn't really know what it was about or who the characters were supposed to be. You need a very particular kind of narrator for a cozy mystery that gets its color from quirky, not-quite-realistic characters and stylized, old-fashioned dialogue, and unfortunately Mr. McLain doesn't quite hit the mark.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • JMay
  • Crystal, MN, United States
  • 08-23-13

A detective story with class

The setting in a small agricultural school and the humor of the professor turned unwilling detective make this book a great read. Add a little romance and you have it all.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 12-22-12

Bah, Humbug!

I chose this book based on the editor's summary hinting at some fun with the set-up of the off-the-chart Christmas decoration prank, and the hope of a fun Christmas based mystery. But all the fun was perfunctorily disposed of within a few paragraphs in the first chapter, and the rest of the story dissolves into a mediocre (and not so fun) TV movie style mystery.

While the secret behind the murders and mayhem on the Balaclava Campus turns out to be an interesting one, the process of getting to the truth is a tiresome exploration of pompous, self important academics and nitwit law enforcement personnel who don't even bother to investigate. The author has absolutely no ear for dialogue that real people would speak, filling the conversations with "I daresay you are right", "may I dare to hope that you are she?", "by my stars and garters", and (I kid you not) "By Yumpin' Yiminnie". The only way to tolerate this amateurish attempt is to pretend it's the screenplay for a "Murder She Wrote" episode and expect nothing more in the way of character development or suspense.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Liv
  • Durham, NC
  • 06-08-16

Good story with qualifiers

This mystery had a good plot but the characters were exaggerated which made them seem less believable. In addition, the word choices were often unlikely to be said in a real situation-- like "that would be delightful," which made the characters feel contrived. Besides the frequent necessity for a willing suspension of disbelief, this was a good story- perhaps it would be more natural if read rather than listened to. My other complaint is that the protagonist, Peter Shandy, was performed in a monotone voice which got tiresome. Even scientists of his type sometimes have voice inflections.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • GrandmaG
  • Kinnelon, NJ, United States
  • 10-22-15

A very pleasant listening experience!

I have spent quite a few years looking for a cozy mystery series I like as much as Lilian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who...." series. I am pleased to say that, IMO, this author's work is comparable. I will definitely purchase the next book in the series. I found the characters to be interesting, engaging, and, at some points funny. There's a bit of romance, but nothing I wouldn't want a child to listen to. I would rate it PG-13 because there are a few cuss words, but nothing you would not hear at your local supermarket. Definitely no F-bombs! These books were written in a gentler time - this particular book was published in Jan., 1978. My comment on the narrator: I saw a few negative comments on Mr. McLain's narration, and I'd like to say that at first, I thought I might agree with them. But after 1/2 hour or so, he seemed to "come into his own", so to speak, and perhaps I just got used to it. To summarize, I would say if you like gory details and descriptive sexual acts, you WILL NOT LIKE THIS BOOK. This is a true cozy mystery - just an enjoyable listen with nothing offensive.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Always loved this book

The Peter Shandy mysteries were always fun and funny. Always nice to revisit with old friends.

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  • colorado
  • 12-18-18

great start to a great series

the Peter shandy series is such a entertaining book to read it always makes me laugh I love the characters I love the story development and I'm only sorry that there are not more of them to read

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Merry mystery

Always enjoy the Prof Shanty character. This is a great intro to his beloved. The narrator captures just the right amount of stuffy and sleuthy. Highly recommend this Christmas classic

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  • IAN
  • 10-19-18

FESTIVE SEASON & A DEAD BODY AT BALACLAVA COLLEGE.

The first book in the Peter Shandy mysteries by Charlotte MacLeod, in a 10 book series.

This was the audiobook edition narrated by John McLain.

Peter Shandy, college botany professor, and librarian Helen Marsh Shandy solve murder mysteries in Balaclava County, Massachusetts.

With the festive season in full swing at Balaclava College, professor Peter Shandy is not feeling in the festive spirit. After refusing to allow the Christmas committee to decorate his home on the hill for yet another year, he decides to take the Christmas break away from his normal yearly routine. But before going he decides to leave a little present for the Christmas committee that they will not forget!

What he doesn't expect to find on his return is a dish of marbles scattered over the floor and the dead body of his friend and working partners wife and head of the Christmas committee behind his sofa!

It looks like she slipped off the ladder trying to remove some of Peter's window decorations.

The campus security and the local police are quite willing to put it down as an accident, but Peter thinks it is murder, when he finds that one of his nieces marbles is missing.

So it is left to Peter, with the help of Miss Helen Marsh to find a killer within the college campus.

Charlotte MacLeod story telling is light, fun and totally enjoyable. Weaving a magic of colourful characters and situations that will keep you glued to the page from start to finish.

Ms MacLeod's books are ones I can enjoy many times over, and still get the freshness and the delight as I did when I first read them many years ago.

John McLain's excellent narration kept the story moving with the lightness and fun that Ms MacLeod aimed for, and is well worth listening to.