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Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime Paperback – May 12, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
_Naughty_ is a consistent, very good short-story collection. Several of the stories are share characters, but other than that the only similarities among them are thematic. Namely: irony, black humor, tight construction, quick pacing, and (of course) Christmas.
Most of the pieces here could be described more as "crime stories" than as "mysteries" per se. They're reminiscent of Carl Hiaasen, with maybe a little Elmore Leonard--the biter is bit, the wicked (who are not exactly Napoleons of Crime) are hoist by their own petards, the dialog is snappy, and the protagonists are caught up in events rather against their will. The exception is "Humbug," a little gem that (rather like Jasper Fforde's _The Fourth Bear_) takes the rigorous logic of the traditional detective story into places where it was never supposed to poke its nose. Every story is well-crafted; I only wish there were more of them, or that more authors took the same care with their writing.
If you like Steve Hockensmith's _Holmes on the Range_ series, you'll like _Naughty_. (Though there are no Big Red/Old Red stories in here ... hint, hint, Mr. Hockensmith.) If you haven't encountered Hockensmith ere now, this isn't a bad place to start. And if you just like Christmas stories ... well, remember that the season isn't all tinsel and jollity. Christmas comes for bad little boys, too.
Once you begin reading these nine short stories, you will know that first line simply is not true. Steve Hockensmith loves Christmas, he loves writing about crime, and when he can combine the two, it's magic.
Sometimes when I see a book cover or a title, I just know that I'm going to love the book, and this is what happened to me with Naughty. The nine stories run the gamut of yuletide criminal activity, and you'll be hard pressed not to read the entire collection with a smile on your face.
"Fruitcake" is a grin-inducing tale about the love-crazed shenanigans of an old woman in a nursing home. A young woman hired as an elf in a shopping mall tells us how "I Killed Santa Claus." The guy in the office that we all love to hate has an interesting experience with his "Secret Santa." In "Humbug" we learn that Scrooge is dead. A gift wrapper in the mall decides to get even with a "Naughty" lecher. In perhaps the most touching of the tales, a little girl and her even younger brother find a gift in their mother's closet in "Hidden Gifts." There's a plot against Santa in "Red Christmas," and two dim-witted burglars attempt to rob a church on Christmas Eve in "Naiveté." The last tale, "Special Delivery," about a trucker trying to deliver a shipment of Cabbage Patch dolls in time for Christmas, struck a special chord with me, since I worked retail during that particular toy craze. Occasionally characters from one tale will appear in another, and you'll greet them with a smile and a "Hey, I know you!Read more ›
All of these stories are fun if somewhat predictable. Having said that, a couple of them caught me off guard completely. Even if I saw the ending coming, the final line was always enough to get a grin or chuckle out of me. Three of the stories are inner connected, but they are published in the proper order, so that's not an issue at all.
If you are looking for some mystery to spice up your Christmas, this is the book to get. You'll enjoy every story along the way.
I enjoyed the entire collection from start to finish, but a few of the stories particularly stood out to me:
"Fruitcake" finds septuagenarian widow Ethel Queenan stalking the Always Sunny Trailer Park looking for a replacement for her dearly departed husband. Given that widows outnumber the widowers by about 5-to-1, competition is fierce. Ethel is therefore upset, murderously so, when virtual spring chicken (just sixty-five!) Connie Sandrelli swoops in and steals Ethel's latest target out from under her. Evil plots involving fruitcake (recipe included) ensue.
"I Killed Santa Claus" is my second favorite of the collection. Poor Hannah Fox comes home for the final Christmas break of her college career only to find her mother has signed her up for elf duty at the mall's annual Santa's Workshop display. At first Hannah merely finds her co-workers annoying: fellow elf Arlo, the perpetual stoner; the mall's Santa, who goes by "Big Buck" and has a very un-Santa Southern drawl; and Kev Kane, Big Buck's miniature, elf sidekick. However, she soon begins to suspect Big Buck and Kev are up to no good and sets a trap for them...leading to some rather unexpected consequences.
"Special Delivery" is the tale of a Christmas that almost wasn't for the children of one small town. It's Christmas Eve in 1983 when long haul trucker Bass get a call that his services are urgently needed for an overnight run.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It has been quite awhile since I have read short stories. This book was perfect for giving me funny and original tales of Christmas crime. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Lynn T.
This is a great collection of funny holiday stories. Each is narrated with a unique character voice. I enjoyed the stories so much I purchased three more Steve Hockensmith books.Published 20 months ago by Kathy Tosh
Funny & imaginative. I just love Christmas mysteries and this one is great. Irreverent and smart-talking characters. Highly recommend it.Published 20 months ago by Linda P
Fun light mysteries by the author of Holmes on the Range series. This is a nice collection of entertaining tales and I hope he publishes more. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jill S.
This is a book of short stories which is quite amusing in places. Well worth a read at Christmas time with a couple of the stories being written by the same author.Published on February 7, 2013 by "Well read"
This rocks, and getting it free was even better! Christmas will never be the same, although I hope there is a new book next Christmas.Published on January 24, 2013 by Paula Elder
Hilarious! I loved how the tales were often interwoven with each other. But my favorite was the last one, which involves Cabbage Patch dolls and an overworked truck driver. Read morePublished on January 20, 2013 by Lisa Shafer
This is a nice book to read if you are sick of the syrupy lovey dovey schlocky stories that invariably come out at Christmas time. Read morePublished on January 4, 2013 by Marsha Butler