Thursday, December 2, 2021

When Christmas Comes

When Christmas Comes by Andrew Klavan
11/2/21; 244 pages
Penzler Publishers

When Christmas Comes by Andrew Klavan is a very highly recommended mystery.

In the town of Sweet Haven ex-Army Ranger Travis Blake has murdered his girlfriend, elementary school librarian Jennifer Dean. He has confessed. Public defender Victoria Grossburger recruits English professor Cameron Winter to look into the case. Winter has a gift of sorts. His self-described "strange habit of mind" allows him to acquaint himself with a situation, observe it, think about the facts, and come to a sudden realization about what really happened. Grossburger wants him to put his gift to use on Blake's situation. As the story unfolds, sessions between Winter and his therapist Margaret Whitaker are slowly revealed and provide insight into Winter.

The writing is excellent in this short mystery that takes place before Christmas and has a tie in to the holiday. Keep in mind that this is not a cozy mystery. It can be a rather dark, bleak story with a horrific crime at its center. Winter is a fully realized character and displays an inner strength of character and intelligence. As he looks into the murder, he also examines his troubled childhood. The plot seems simple and straightforward, after all Blake confess so what additional information could Winter possibly uncover, but the ending surprised me. I wasn't able to predict it at all. In spite of his inner turmoil and the bleakness of the days, the novel ends on a surprising, but hopeful note.

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