Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Spy Who Came To Christmas by David Morrell

I adore Christmas books and often spend most of December reading as many as I can get my hands on. They are usually short and often sappy but that's all part of the magic. I will try almost all of them and like the majority of them. I was very anxious to try this story The Spy Who Came To Christmas by David Morrell. It sounded like an interesting story and was written by "the father of the modern action novel". Although I don't usually chose spy stories it sounded like a good combination.

This book plays off the traditional Christmas story of the birth of the baby Jesus and an undercover agent who is protecting an infant they are calling The Child of Peace. Paul Kagan is on the run on Christmas Eve in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is injured and seeking refuge for himself and the baby. The cities annual light displays and holiday celebration draws in many people and allows Paul some temporary cover as he is being pursued by the Russian mafia. But soon he is forced to chose a hiding spot and in doing so he involves an innocent family. A mother and her young son are enduring their own hardships from domesticate abuse when Paul uses their home for shelter. He is reluctant to involve them but has no choice. Now he must enlist their help to keep them all alive.

I did like the suspense throughout the story and enjoyed how the author used the main character to retell the story of Christ's birth with a new twist. He included spies in his version to explain some elements of the Christmas story. I did find some aspects of the original story too convenient and unrealistic. It may have been because the story was only about 230 pages and there may not have been as much time to develop some of the points I had issues with. One example was whenever Paul needed any type of tool, or anything for that matter, it was always right at his fingertips. Need a hammer? It's in the drawer on your left. Need wire? It's in the drawer on the right. Tape? Tin foil? 20 piece socket set? Crock pot? Lawn mower? In the drawers here, here and there. OK, I might have exaggerated a little but only about the tape. Seriously, we can never find a roll of tape in our house no matter how many rolls I buy! Which brings me back to my point. Even under the best of times it's hard to find certain items on demand but these people were under duress and they still didn't have to move to get to anything. That's hardly a major problem but it's the details that were mishandled at times in my opinion.

It was also hard to believe some of the quick personality changes of the characters involved. I don't want to give anything away but there were some instant changes at critical moments that were hard to believe. It felt like it was more about tying up loose ends than staying true to the characters. I'm not familiar with the author's regular work but I have a feeling that in his full length spy novels he has the time to work out details like this in a more realistic fashion.

All and all it was an enjoyable and intense story that kept me turning the pages. I'm glad I tried something different this year. It did have a nice message and some very likable characters. I think I'll read a sappy one now since it's still vacation!


  1. I like Christmas books and mysteries so this sounds good.

  2. I'm glad you liked it. I gave up a quarter of the way in.


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