Sunday, July 14, 2013

Book Review: Naughty - Nine Tales of Christmas Crime by Steve Hockensmith

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Nine fun stories about crime at Christmas
Cons: You can sometimes see the ending coming
The Bottom Line
Holly jolly crime
Fun assortment of stories
I enjoyed them all

Come be Naughty this Christmas

I love reading Christmas mysteries in December, so when author Steve Hockensmith was offering the Kindle version of his collection Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime for free, I snapped it up to read on my iPod Touch.  I’m glad I did because it was a lot of fun.

As you’d expect, this is a collection of nine previous published short stories centered around crime at Christmas.  There’s fruitcake as a murder weapon, a mall elf who thinks Santa is up to something bad, and two kids who get more than they bargained for when they snoop for presents.  One story even travels to the North Pole as an elf turns up murdered wrapped in a present.  Not every story involves murder – robbery seems to be a common Christmas crime as well.

And fun is always the name of the game.  While these stories are short, they absolutely invoked a place and time and created real, memorable characters.  If he were to revisit any of them for longer stories, I would certainly sign up.

Speaking of which, three of the stories are sort of inner connected.  Two feature the same main character, and the third focuses on some formerly minor characters.  They are included here in the order in which they take place, so as long as you read in order, you’ve got no problems at all.

I will admit I often saw the ultimate ending of the story coming, although a few times I did get surprised along the way.  Even then, I was enjoying my time, so it wasn’t an issue at all.  Plus, there was usually a line at the end that made me smile if not chuckle.

Since I have read Steve’s Holmes on the Range mysteries, I knew he could write prose that captures an accent while still being readable.  But the variety of style here is pretty amazing.  Most stories are third person, but for two of them, he takes on a young woman who is an English major, and in another he’s a truck driver.  Both sound completely natural.  And then there’s the story about the murder of Scrooge that sounds remarkably like Dickens wrote it.

So if you are looking for some light crime this Christmas, you can’t go wrong with Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime.  I’m certainly glad I gave it a read.

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