An amusing collection of fanciful short stories.
Although his book brims with elves, angels and 200-year-old reindeer, Langione’s background as a police and army officer clearly shines through his writing. Hard-boiled detectives and gold-digging dames straight out of film noir turn up as often as soldiers and war-torn scenery. The book’s 12 casually written stories reflect the hope and spiritual tone of the Christmas season while borrowing details from the author’s life experiences. The tales span centuries, countries and eras, and it’s never initially obvious where or when each story is set. Sometimes this proves confusing, but elsewhere it lends to the suspense. Not until readers follow Vinnie Valli through a strange transaction with a cashmere-coated client and many cups of Earl Grey do they learn that he’s riding through the streets of New York to meet an elf named Alabaster Snow. On the other hand, it’s unclear that Ruba Serovic is in present-day Budapest until the very end of the tale, when it’s too late to catch all the narrative’s nuances. The characterization is laced with humor–from the short gambler who stays seated to remain eye level with opponents, to the triple-retired mayor hare of a duck pond. Many tales are set just before Christmas but some simply relay the good tidings of the season without a specific timeline. Some offer a clever twist on classic holiday chronicles such as â€œThe Gift of the Magi,” which is changed to a melancholy account of greed in â€œThe Gift of the Maggios.” All the stories are short and breezily written, for a quick dose of holiday cheer no matter what month it is.
Clever short stories that will entertain mystery fans and lovers of holiday tales.