’Twas two weeks before Christmas and all through the town rocketed the psychotic, death-dealing limo driver from hell.
Nicolai Kyznetsoff, who’s employed by the Lucky Seven Company, seems harmless enough at first glance. There’s nothing about his open manner, perhaps a bit over-imbued with seasonal friendliness, to suggest the ex-KGB agent who had killed so many so joyfully, or to send a warning to a self-involved young hotshot on his way to attend an important business meeting. Annoyed by the unwonted brio of Nicolai’s chauffeuring, Scott Wilkinson makes the mistake of complaining to Lucky Seven management. As a result, Nicolai is abruptly fired, setting in motion a chain of events that fill several body bags. Meanwhile, FBI agent Christopher Miller, a good man who’s the stuff of heroes, is about to pay dearly for having outperformed a jealous boss. “Stick a fork in me, I’m done,” he tells a sympathetic colleague, foreseeing a future restricted to desk duty. He’d be right if it weren’t for Nicolai and his barbarous approach to getting even. As it is, the children’s Christmas pageant at the Horace Abercrombie School segues into a hair-raising firefight.
A departure for Grabenstein, darker and bloodier than his Jersey Shore mysteries (Mad Mouse, July 2006, etc.). It’s nicely done, though readers may miss the author’s signature light touch.