Secret Santa by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards Secret Santa by Matthew Costello, Neil Richards
Narrator: Neil Dudgeon
Series: Cherringham #25
Published by Lübbe Audio on December 21, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Novella, Christmas
Length: 2 hrs 35 mins
Format: Audiobook
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three-half-stars

Bill Vokes has played Santa at the children's Christmas show for years. But with the show just hours away, he vanishes with no explanation. The whole village is baffled. Did something bad happen to loveable Bill: upstanding citizen, churchgoer, life and soul of the party and the holiday season?

Jack and Sarah are on the case - and soon discover there are secrets about this Santa that no one could have imagined ...

I had to go to a Christmas luncheon out of town for work and was trying to pick something to start listening to for my ride back home. (Lunch, by the way was at The Twisted Olive in Green, OH – delicious!) Around town I’ve been listening to holiday music, but on trips over say 15 minutes when I’m by myself, I prefer listening to books. I always enjoy the Cherringham novellas, and Secret Santa has been on my to-read list since last Christmas.

Santa is missing. Bill Vokes always plays Santa, but this year, after donning his costume, he steps outside for a cigarette and just disappears. Sarah’s dad is worried, so she and Jack start looking around. Sarah and Jack make a formidable team. He’s former NYPD and she’s smart, curious, and good on a computer. And there are a lot of deaths/crimes in Cherringham for them to solve. For a small town in the Cotswalds, it’s a dangerous place, right up there with St. Mary Mead and Cabot Cove. 

Bill and his wife have enough money to live comfortably without working, but no one knows for sure where the money came from. And Sarah can’t find anything on the internet about Bill. Obviously, he has some secrets, but what are they and are they the reason he disappeared?

Sarah and Jack find some clues, talk to some people, and of course solve the case. It’s a light mystery – no one even gets killed, and I like that Sarah and Jack are still friends, close friends, but there’s not that will they/won’t they nonsense, at least not in this one.

I will always keep the Cherringham novellas in mind when I want a fun, quick read. I listened to the audio this time around, though, and I’m not sure that I loved the narration. Jack just sounded more gruff than I thought he should. I think I’ll stick to the e-book collections from now on.

About Matthew Costello

Matthew Costello was born in 1948 and writes novels and nonfictional works as author and coauthor. Some of his books have been adapted into film versions and he wrote for some TV channels like the BBC. He also scripts and designs videogames.

About Neil Richards

Neil Richards has worked as a producer and writer in TV and film, creating scripts for BBC, Disney, and Channel 4, and earning numerous Bafta nominations along the way. He’s also written script and story for over 20 video games including The Da Vinci Code and Starship Titanic, co-written with Douglas Adams, and consults around the world on digital storytelling. His writing partnership with NYC-based Matt Costello goes back to the late 90’s and the two have written many hours of TV together. Cherringham, the crime fiction series set in the Cotswolds, is their first crime fiction as co-writers.

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