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Ferrara Family Mystery #6

Murder at the Mistletoe Ball

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Christmas in Tranquility, New Jersey, means togetherness for the Italian-American Ferrara family--and an unexpected reunion for Alberta Scaglione. But someone has murder on their holiday wish list...

Alberta is delighted that her estranged daughter has arrived in Tranquility, even if Lisa Marie has an ulterior motive. Her son, Alberta's twenty-one-year-old grandson, Sergio, hasn't been heard from in six months, shortly after taking up with a woman named Natalie. Maybe Alberta and her crime-reporting partner-in-sleuthing granddaughter, Jinx, can track him down before Christmas?

After some fruitless searching, the Ferraras take a break to attend the Mistletoe Ball, a fundraiser for the local hospital. But the night takes a chilling turn when a snowman decoration splits open, revealing a body. Lisa Marie screams that it's Natalie--and screams again when she sees a man emerge from behind some Christmas trees. The good news is they've found Sergio. The bad news: he's a prime suspect for murder.

It seems Sergio's former squeeze had some shady secrets. And with more than one family member's future at stake, Alberta and Lisa Marie will have to put their past behind them and work together, or it'll be a blue, blue Christmas...

251 pages, Kindle Edition

Published October 26, 2021

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J.D. Griffo

9 books58 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews
Profile Image for Deanne Patterson.
1,905 reviews74 followers
July 5, 2023
I'm happy to be doing the Christmas Reads in July theme. This really gives me a chance to catch up on my older Christmas books and to also pretend I can feel the coolness of the snow I'm reading about.
The Italian themed cozy mystery was enjoyable. A missing person for six months and his girlfriend is the suspect. So who's to blame when he turns up but she turns up dead. Family estrangement, misunderstandings round out the cozy.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book.
All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for The Cozy Review.
542 reviews40 followers
October 11, 2021
Murder At The Mistletoe Ball will keep readers guessing and fill the holidays with mystery and fun. You just have to love Alberta. She is a delightful, funny, straight forward no-nonsense kind of lady, except when it comes to her daughter or a murder investigation. Jinx, Alberta’s granddaughter, and sidekick is becoming more like her every day, something that may not please Jinx’s mother. When the holidays come around, and the ball preparations are in full swing, an unexpected visitor shows up in Tranquility, Lisa Marie, Alberta’s estranged daughter.

The characters in this series remind me of my own family. Sometimes we get along; sometimes, we don’t talk to each other for years. But Alberta and Lisa Marie soon realize that they have to deal with the past and move beyond the hurt and grief. Jinx tries her best not to take sides, but with her brother missing and everyone on pins and needles with the upcoming holiday festivities in Tranquility, and the tension between Alberta and Lisa Marie, it isn’t easy to keep her mouth shut and let them handle things in their own way.

When Sergio’s girlfriend, and the reason for his disappearance from his parent’s life, and their sudden appearance in Alberta’s life, is found murdered, she, Jinx, and Lisa Marie set out to prove that he isn’t the killer. It’s not easy, the victim had a lot of enemies, and those she called friends aren’t as innocent as they try to appear. It looks like several people in and around the town of Tranquility have secrets and motives. Even Sergio and his parents are suspects. Things turn dark when the victim’s past comes to light and her secrets are unraveled. It takes everything Alberta, Jinx, and Lisa Marie have to find the killer, escape the clutches of death, save Sergio, and have a merry holiday.

Tranquility is a lovely setting for Murder At The Mistletoe Ball. It is described in loving detail without too many mundane explanations. Alberta, Jinx, and Lisa Marie keep readers smiling and filled with a true sense of the holiday season. The mystery is well written, the suspects believable, and the evidence abundant. The pleasure readers derive from the mother-daughter reunion, and the book’s ending will stay with them long after they turn the last page. I am happy to know that Alberta will finally find peace with the past and looks forward to the future.
Profile Image for The Sassy Bookworm.
3,461 reviews2,355 followers
December 20, 2021

This was my second Italian family themed cozy in a row, and I ain't complaining! This was an interesting cozy for me to read. First, the murder didn't actually take place until halfway through the book. Which isn't the usual MO for these genera of books. Second, I found this overall to be a darker, heavier, I dunno...more serious in subject matter (?) than (again) what I am used to. Neither of which I found to be negative, just noticeable differences.

Murder at the Mistletoe Ball was my first taste of this series, and I can say it held up well as a standalone. It was well written. The plot was engaging and kept me guessing. It was suitably festive. The characters were likable and plentiful. And to top it off, we get a few yummy sounding recipes to try out. What more can a reader ask for? 😉

**ARC Via NetGalley**
Profile Image for Lisa Currier.
1,772 reviews56 followers
June 29, 2021
I adored this book! Alberta Scaglione is a top notch character, and I didn't want this book to end.
From previous books, we know Alberta doesn't have a relationship with her daughter, Lisa Marie, so when a greeting card shows up in the mail, Alberta is shocked.
Eventually we find out why her daughter is reaching out, and before long a mind blowing investigation takes place.
I have read a lot of cozy mysteries, but I honestly have to say this is my favorite Christmas themed cozy so far this year.

I love the cast of characters, the Italian food sounds divine, and I can easily relate to the family drama. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for selecting me to read an advanced copy of Murder at the Mistletoe Ball.

I definitely recommend this boom to all cozy mystery fans!

#MurderattheMistletoeBall #NetGalley
Profile Image for Jerri Cachero.
600 reviews48 followers
July 26, 2021
I'm a fan of Alberta, Helen, Jinx and Joyce and this book has everything I love - great mystery, humor, family, friendship and a cast of characters who feel like old friends! When Alberta's estranged daughter returns asking for help with a family member, Alberta goes right into mother and detective mode and has to stop a cruel killer who has targeted her and her family.

Another plus for the book is the Christmas theme and the Mistletoe Ball. It was the middle of July but I was transported to a Tranquility Christmas! The relationship between Alberta and her estranged daughter, Lisa Marie, is presented in a kind but very realistic manner. It's the perfect holiday mystery with murder, intrigue, beautiful ball gowns, delicious food and most importantly - forgiveness! So turn the air conditioner up, have a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy this "keep you reading" mystery!

I'm ready for the next book!

I received an ARC from NetGalley and the opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Bridget.
2,789 reviews106 followers
October 26, 2021
This is the sixth book in the 'Ferrara Family Detective Agency' series featuring a multi-generational Italian-American sleuthing duo Alberta Scaglione and her twenty-odd-year-old reporter granddaughter, Jinx, and it was really enjoyable! Also part of the family is Helen and Joyce. Helen is Alberta's ex-nun sister, and Joyce is their ex-sister-in-law and a former Wall Street executive. Together they are nobody's fool. The characters are all well crafted by the author J D Griffo with each one being very individual and having their own distinctive personalities and flaws.

It's Christmastime in Tranquility, New Jersey, and Lisa Marie, Alberta's elusive daughter is in town. Sergio, Alberta's twenty-one-year-old grandson is missing, not seen for six months, so Alberta and Jinx set about looking for him. Attending a hospital fundraiser, the Mistletoe Ball in Tranquility turns into a memorable event when a body is uncovered from a giant snowman decoration. The victim's identity results in the finger being firmly pointed at Sergio as the primary suspect...

There are several good clues as to the identity of the perpetrator, but also some great red herrings to throw the reader off the scent. The plot is well thought-out and the author's style continues to impress me. With scores of laugh-out-loud moments and superb interaction between the Ferrara family, I would definitely recommend Murder at the Mistletoe Ball to other cozy readers. This was a five-star read for me!

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Ileana Renfroe.
Author 28 books38 followers
September 9, 2021
Murder at the Mistletoe Ball was such a great cozy mystery. I highly recommend it.

The storyline was easy to follow and the well-crafted characters were a delight.

We are swept away to a small town in New Jersey, Tranquility during the Christmas holiday. An unexpected turn of events has Alberta's daughter stopping by for a visit asking for help to find Sergio her grandson who has been missing for six months.

Follow Addie and Jinx to see if they figure out the mystery. A must-read.
Profile Image for Ann.
5,286 reviews62 followers
January 1, 2022
This is book 6 in the Ferrara Family Mystery series. It's a good Christmas cozy and all the family is back. This includes Alberta's estranged daughter Lisa Marie. She is back in New Jersey for the Holidays and when her son, Sergio is accused of murder she wants to help find the real murderer. All the family is back for this Christmas cozy. I love this series that is set in the Italian Jersey family. I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Jeanne.
513 reviews
April 30, 2022
Another enjoyable outing with the Ferrara Family (despite everyone screaming, yelling, shouting, and more screaming). A number of things were resolved, leaving me to wonder if the book contract is up but nothing final. There could well be more. The characters are great fun; interesting plot, if they do reach sometimes.
1,741 reviews17 followers
December 2, 2021
Princess Fuzzypants here: This has been a lovely series with the main protagonist an older woman who lived her life in the shadows and who, after being widowed and given an inheritance is making up for lost time. Alberta is a wonder. She is smart, she is kind, and she is a very good sleuth. Along with her sister Helen, sister-in-law Joyce and granddaughter Jinx, the “Ferraro family detective agency” and Vinny, the cop, who shares information and works with them, they have an enviable track record.

Bur before turning her life around, Alberta made many mistakes including some that has led to a 14 year estrangement with her daughter, Lisa Marie. So when her daughter reaches out for help, she is scared, delighted and very curious. Alberta’s grandson is in trouble. He is head over heels in love with a “bad” girl and no amount of persuading can break her hold on him. He does not realize until it is too late how precarious his situation is and how dangerous this liaison will be.

I love these three feisty older ladies and one feisty younger one. They bicker and they prod but they are there for each other as are the men in their lives. They all have fascinating backstories, especially Helen and Joyce. They are proof that there is nothing more powerful than a functioning family. Lisa Marie is about to discover that while she has changed over the years, her mother’s transformation is nothing short of miraculous.

These are great stories with lots of noise and tons of heart and some very good, sometimes subtle, messages. An excellent read for the Holiday Season. Five purrs and two paws up.
Profile Image for Bridget.
960 reviews12 followers
January 3, 2022
This book was a surprise to me. It was a freebie I had, and I figured what the heck, it was a holiday book and it was during the holidays, so I'd give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised.

Alberta Scaglione's estranged daughter Lisa Marie sends her a message, asking for help, but with no other details. Eventually, we learn Lisa Marie and her husband are in Alberta's town in New Jersey, and they need her help because their son has been missing for a month. They have very little information to go on, but Alberta and her friends - who apparently in previous books have formed an informal investigating group - take on the search.

Happening at the same time, plans for the revival of the Mistletoe Ball, a fundraising event that had fallen by the wayside in recent years. Except it turns out that during the festivities, Alberta's grandson is found next to the dead body of his girlfriend, and he is holding a bloody knife. So now the grandson is located, but the family has to prove his innocence.

This book was deceptively well-written. When you start it, you wonder if it's going to be worth reading, and then about two chapters in, you realize that both the plot and the characters are more interesting and slightly more complex than expected. On the one hand, some people might think there is a lot of stereotyping of people with Italian backgrounds in the book, and though I agree, I also have to admit to knowing a lot of people with that background who fit the stereotype ...

An interesting read.
1,651 reviews28 followers
July 7, 2021
Christmas is coming to Tranquility and the ladies are getting ready for the return of an old historic ball the town held for years. Alberta is in for a bigger surprise though when she gets a card from her estranged daughter, Lisa Marie, asking for her mother’s help. It’s been so long since the two have seen each other, and Alberta is nervous, but she will always answer the call of family. Especially when she finds out her grandson has left home to follow a sketchy woman he thinks he is in love with, though his parents see her for the bad seed they believe she is.

When the young woman who has led Sergio astray falls out of a snow woman at the ball and he is found holding the murder weapon, Alberta knows that she and the Ferrara ladies are on the case. They will stop at nothing to prove his innocence, even if they all harbor a small bit of doubt that his anger issues could have led to him accidentally hurting the young woman. As the ladies dig deeper and uncover more details, they find a much bigger problem in their town and need to balance sleuthing with safety if they want to have the whole family home for Christmas.

I love this series. I have some Italian family members and can hear my cousin saying “Ma” every time Lisa Marie does. Family is truly everything and these ladies live it each and every day. Be sure to check out the recipes at the end of the book as well!
1,263 reviews48 followers
July 11, 2021
Ok, just finished my third Ferrara Family book in a row (4-6), having skipped 1-3. I totally understand what to expect from this series and received it this time. My first review of book #4 wasn't thrilled by the heaping dose of Ferrara drama and the dense, detail packed story.

We finally meet Lisa Marie, the daughter, "in person". The murder involves her son and, of course, Alberta will do anything for family so the investigation is on despite their 14 year separation. The ideas, motives and story line behind the mystery/murder are quite sophisticated. Despite the lack of sex, on page/descriptive killing and foul language (though I think there's one or two minor vulgar words used, including one in Italian), I don't think this is really a cozy mystery.

There were a couple of proofing misses like the word fight for fit, but I was reading an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review, so that may be fixed in the final version. A few things weren't explored, like how someone ended up with someone else's belongings and Lisa Marie's actions 14 years ago. Neither really impacted the story, but since they were brought up, a quick line to address them would have been nice.

I've definitely warmed up to the series, but I wouldn't pick it up if I wanted a light, quick cozy read. These are more substantial.

Profile Image for Jan.
4,924 reviews55 followers
August 2, 2021
The Ferrara lady sleuths are very Sicilian Catholic. Older widow Alberta (who has turned into a very savvy sleuth!) and her granddaughter Jinx (a reporter for the local paper), Alberta's ex-nun sister Helen, and former sister in law (and former Wall Street executive) Joyce. They are also helped by
their friend, the local police chief, in their small town in New Jersey. This series just goes to show that not all of the fun/quirky Sicilian women live in Sicily, New Orleans, or NYC!
This time the madness is really a family affair. Alberta's estranged daughter (Jinx's mother) asks for help and comes from her home in Florida back to New Jersey to find her absconded son who appears to be in a mess with a woman (who is NOT Sicilian). But it's at the fundraiser for the local hospital and Breast Cancer research that things really get hairy and the sleuths get into high gear.
Great sleuthing with zany characters, Red Herrings, plot twists, and lots of humor!
I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
Profile Image for Cozy Reviews.
1,746 reviews5 followers
October 4, 2021
This is such a fun cozy series because it features a large boisterous Italian family . I love returning to the Ferrara family for this 6th in series. I have read the entire series and this is a cozy series I highly recommend. This is the perfect cozy holiday read.

Christmas time in Tranquility New Jersey is the theme of this next in series. The entire family is searching for their grandson after he mysteriously has not been heard from or seen since he began dating a new girlfriend. The entire clan joins in the search to no avail. As they all attend the Christmas festive chaos reigns when a body falls out of snowman and its his girlfriend. Grandson Alberto is now the prime suspect of her murder which has the entire family fighting for the truth and trying to free him.

This is such a fun Christmas theme book with a fancy ball,, mysterious sleuth and all the fun charcters of this favorite cozy family. I enjoyed this next in series as one of my favorite cozies of the fall season. I look forward to the next in series and returning to the fun Ferrar family .
Profile Image for Susan.
1,561 reviews12 followers
October 25, 2021
I always enjoy spending some time with the Ferrara family. Alberta is a force to be reckoned with at the best of times but when her estranged daughter, Lisa Marie, shows up Alberta will do all she can to protect her family. Turns out her grandson, Sergio has been missing for six months and may have been with his girlfriend, Natalie. Plus it's Christmas and there are lots of festivities to be enjoyed. Too bad a killer is joining them. Natalie is the victim and Sergio is the prime suspect.
Natalie had a lot of enemies so which one wanted her dead? Alberta and Lisa Marie team up to clear Sergio's name and along the way get to know each other better. Add Christmas with family and Alberta has a lot to deal with but she is up to the challenge.
The setting of Tranquility, NJ is perfect and the mystery well written with richly drawn characters and a satisfying ending - as are all of the books in this delightful series.
My thanks to the publisher Kensington and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Lisa Currier.
1,772 reviews56 followers
June 29, 2021
I adored this book! Alberta Scaglione is a top notch character, and I didn't want this book to end.
From previous books, we know Alberta doesn't have a relationship with her daughter. Lisa Marie, so when a greeting card shows up in the mail, Alberta is shocked.
Eventually we find out why her daughter is reaching out, and before long a mind blowing investigation takes place.
I have read a lot of cozy mysteries, but I honestly have to say this is my favorite Christmas themed cozy so far this year.

I love the cast of characters, the Italian food sounds divine, and I can easily relate to the family drama. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for selecting me to read an advanced copy of Murder at the Mistletoe Ball.

I definitely recommend this boom to all cozy mystery fans!

#MurderattheMistletoeBall #NetGalley
81 reviews1 follower
August 26, 2021
Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely loved this new entry in the series. For readers who are familiar with the Ferrara Family Mystery series, Lisa Marie finally shows up and plays an important part in this book. For readers for whom Murder at the Mistletoe Ball is the introduction to the series, while you will most certainly enjoy reading it, I strongly recommend reading the previous books. It will definitely add to your enjoyment as it makes a lot of the dynamics between characters more understandable. That being said, the mystery is solid, with a somewhat twisted storyline. While it takes some time for the murder to be committed in the book, there is plenty going on. If you already are a fan of the series, you will enjoy this book for sure.
9,953 reviews121 followers
October 18, 2021
It's been a long 14 years since Alberta and her daughter Lisa Marie spent time (or talked, really) with one another but now Lisa Marie needs Alberta's help to find her son Sergio. Unfortunately, Sergio is found all too soon when his girlfriend, the dreadful Natalie is murdered and her corpse stuffed into a decoration at the Mistletoe Ball. Cozy readers know that she had lots of enemies and that there will be red herrings before the true villain is found. This series (and this will be fine as a standalone) is fun for the characters- the "mature" Alberta, Jinx her granddaughter, and Helen, the ex-nun- as well as for the setting in Tranquility, New Jersey. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good cozy read.
Profile Image for Annarella.
11.7k reviews128 followers
October 28, 2021
I'm a fan of Alberta and her family as they're quirky, relatable and fleshed out characters.
This is another compelling and highly entertaining story that made me laugh and kept me hooked.
There a bit twist as we get to know Alberta's estranged daughter and there's a solid mystery that will be solved with the usual cleverness and a high dose of humour.
The author is a good storyteller and did a good job in developing the plot and the characters.
The Italian is always a bit on the creative side but it always made me laugh.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Profile Image for Nicole.
625 reviews
October 31, 2021
I absolutely love the Ferrara family! When her estranged daughter, Lisa Marie, reaches out to her for assistance, Alberta is caught off guard, but willing to do anything to help - after all, it's family first. And when her grandson, Sergio, is arrested for murdering his girlfriend at the Mistletoe Ball, the unofficial Ferrara Family Detective Agency is on the case! Murder at the Mistletoe Ball is J.D. Griffo's heartwarming 6th installment in the Ferrara Family Mystery Series, and it may be my fave to date. Do yourself a favor and read this wonderful cozy mystery - perfect at the holidays or anytime (I read it on Halloween, lol!)!!! A+++ and 5 stars!
Profile Image for R. Elliott.
1,037 reviews6 followers
December 20, 2022
I enjoyed the Italian culture and some of the most dramatic scenes (Lisa Marie grew on me). the story did pick up for me a lot after the murder, but . I didn't mind the religious element because I read it as more of a commentary on cultural practices than proselytizing, but I did mind how the story repeatedly shamed women for caring about their appearances (primarily Bambi and Natalie - characters describe them as "bad girls" seeking attention from men; just a boatload of internalized misogyny). anyway. I was reading this as a seasonal cozy and it had plenty of seasonal details.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,260 reviews66 followers
Want to read
August 1, 2021
This was my first read from the author and I thought it was a nice enough Christmas mystery though the Italian quotes confused me a little. I liked the family but a lot of the twists and turns weren't believable enough for me. On the other hand, the book does a good job of creating a Christmas mood and that alone will probably please readers. Oh, and there is the food... !

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for Heather.
1,109 reviews
July 2, 2021
Murder at the Mistletoe Ball has it all. Family drama, twists, turns, likable characters, intriguing storyline and you won’t want to put this one down. The cozy mystery genre isn’t going away. Get in board with this series.
Profile Image for Renee Winter.
391 reviews8 followers
July 10, 2021
Family drama at Christmas time. Yep been there! Likable characters with an interesting mystery. A good holiday theme read! Thanks #netgalley and #Keningston for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
861 reviews18 followers
October 26, 2021
I enjoyed the story. I was glad the daughter came for a visit and that Alberta and she can reconnect in a believable manner. It was good to visit with the characters again and the town.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.
144 reviews2 followers
August 1, 2022
OK but not great. I have read a lot of mysteries and, as plot goes, this one was average. Nothing about it is memorable, but I finished it so I can say it did keep my interest.
Profile Image for Christi.
1,104 reviews6 followers
November 10, 2021
I hadn't read any of the previous books in the Ferrara Family Mystery series but it's easy to jump into the kitchen with this boisterous Italian NJ family and start solving crimes. It's fantastic that Alberta and her granddaughter Jinx teamed together to be amateur detectives. I'm tempted to read book 1 to see how it all started. This book deals with a lot of family drama that I suspect has been an undercurrent in the previous books.

I especially loved trying to figure out the meaning of the Italian phrases that accompany each chapter (dusting off that high school Spanish and Latin to make some not-so educated guesses!)

*I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher and I am required to disclose that in my review in compliance with federal law.
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