cover image The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers

The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers

Peter Lovesey et al. Soho Crime, $19.95 (416p) ISBN 978-1-61695-775-9

Soho Crime draws from its impressive roster of authors for this outstanding Christmas-themed anthology. The tone of the 18 entries varies considerably, from the lighthearted to the grim. Some contributors use lead characters from their series: Martin Limón features his wisecracking, savvy U.S. Army investigators George Sueño and Ernie Bascom in “PX Christmas,” and Jane Austen plays sleuth in Stephanie Barron’s “Jane and the Midnight Clear.” Others step with ease out of their comfort zone, such as Gary Corby, who takes a break from ancient Greece to feature Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia in “The Prince (of Peace).” Ed Lin’s NYPD detective Robert Chow is absent from “Martin,” one of several tales with a wicked twist at the end. Mick Herron perhaps most effectively integrates Christmas themes in the title story, in which a group of mall Santas, whose real identities are unknown to one another, find that there’s a stranger in their midst. Other contributors include Timothy Hallinan, Mettie Ivie Harrison, Sujata Massey, and Colin Cotterill. This is the perfect holiday gift for mystery fans.(Oct.)