Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sanity Clause – Steve Brewer

© 2004, Smashwords (edition) (NOOK)

What’s better than a good mystery at Christmas? Or at least second to a good, tear-filled syrupy, get right with the Christmas Spirit holiday tale? Not much. And if you’re going to read a good mystery for Christmas, it’s nice to have a well-established serial writer with a great, stumbling upon the answers private eye waiting in the wings. I started reading Steve Brewer’s Bubba Mabry series almost from the very beginning—I did start with the first of the stories—you know, before Bubba was married (which he is in this story). Aside from the Mabry series (including Lonely Street, Baby Face, and Witchy Woman among others), Brewer has introduced us to Drew Gavin (EndRun and Cheap Shot).

When this story appeared a few years ago in a paperback anthology entitled The Last Noel (2004 Worldwide Mysteries, also includes stories by Catherine Dain, Linda Berry, and Mat Coward), I missed the season. Then the book disappeared from almost anywhere. So when I found I could download it to my NOOK eReader for cheap, I snatched it up. ‘Tis the season for savings after all.

Bubba Mabry, Scrooge-like Christmas hater, is in need of work. So when an undercover job is thrown his way, he naturally takes it and complains about having to watch all the Santas at the local mall, to keep them from doing anything to cast a dark cloud over the mall’s Santa’s Workshop during the festive season. How was he to know that the best of the Santas would turn up murdered in the locker room just at shift change?

This delightful little mystery is filled with Christmas references—including suspects with suspiciously Christmassy names like George (think Bailey and It’s a Wonderful Life) Marley (think Dickens’ timeless A Christmas Carol), and . . . wait for it . . . Carol Tannenbaum (the dead Santa’s sister no less). This little novella moves right along and is filled with great characters, action (car chases, fist fights, and even a moving train scene)—all the things that make a good mystery a, well, good mystery. It’s available for your eReader (Nook, Kindle) or collected in the aforementioned anthology if you can find a copy. Get it, you still have time to read this page-turner before Christmas.

I give Steve Brewer, Bubba Mabry, and Sanity Clause four and one-half reading glasses, and a hearty ‘HO-HO-HO’!
—Benjamin Potter, December 13, 2011

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