Treacherous Toys (Renaissance Faire Mystery # 5) by Joyce and Jim Lavene (Berkley mass market pb, 4 September 2012).
Jessie's apprenticeship this time around will be with Father Christmas (not Santa Claus), at his toy workshop. The role of Father Christmas is played by Chris Christmas, who makes his living playing the Jolly One year-round. Chris's whole family is in part of the act, his wife Christine plays his wife (!) and his eight children play the elves.
But when Jessie goes to the workshop to meet her new mentor, she finds him sprawled on the floor, shot to death. Jessie is heartsick for Christine and the kids, and besides, it drives her crazy not knowing why Chris was killed and by whom.
Jessie is a charming character. She's finally beginning to admit to herself that she loves the Faire life for itself, not just as a means of research for her doctoral dissertation, although still having difficulty with the idea of making a permanent home there.
The Lavenes are skilled at writing mysteries with quirky themes but believable plots that also have informative value. This book concludes with a historical note about tje legend of Father Christmas and a recipe for Renaissance Fruit Cake.
FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.