Narrator: Adam Barr
Series: Cameron Winter Mystery #1
Published by HighBridge on October 26, 2021
Length: 5 hrs 54 mins
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Colorful Christmas lights dapple the family homes in the idyllic lakeside town of Sweet Haven when Jennifer Dean, a young librarian at the local elementary school, is brutally murdered. There are witnesses and her boyfriend Travis Blake confesses to the crime… but something doesn’t quite add up. Blake is a third generation Army Ranger, awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in Afghanistan—how could a beloved son of this tight-knit burgh commit such a grisly deed?
As a community of military families a few miles down the road from an Army base, no one in Sweet Haven wants to investigate a war hero like Blake, not even the top brass at the police department. In steps Cameron Winter, a rugged and lonesome English professor haunted by the ghosts of his own Christmas past, whose former lover asks him to prove Blake innocent. The Sweet Haven murder reverberates in his mind, echoing a horrific yuletide memory from his youth, and Winter knows there are darker powers at play here than a simple domestic dispute. If he can solve this small-town mystery, just maybe he can find peace from his inner demons as well.
The thirty-sixth novel by two-time Edgar Award winner Andrew Klavan, When Christmas Comes is a seasonal tale of tradition, family, and murder; its chilling twists are best experienced curled up beside a burning Yule log.
I was looking for a Christmas mystery, and I failed to do my research. This is not a warm and fuzzy Christmas story – which is fine, I do read mostly murder mysteries after all. It takes place around Christmas time, but our detective, English professor maybe ex-spy Cameron Winter, is not the type to enjoy the holiday. It’s not that he’s a Scrooge, he’s just moody and longs for the Christmasses of his childhood at his nanny’s house and the girl he had a crush on twenty years ago. He dwells on things a lot, which always annoys me and slows down the plot. He’s also smart and handsome and almost every woman is attracted to him, including his therapist. Oh, and the woman who is asking for his help with this case is apparently someone he had an affair with when she was a student.
The plot itself is good. A former military man is accused of and has confessed to killing his girlfriend. Winter’s goal is to find some kind of extenuating circumstances to help lessen his sentence. Winter has a “strange habit of mind” which wasn’t quite clear to me. He can see how the pieces fit together and put himself in others’ shoes. I’m not really sure how that makes him as unique a person as he seems to think he is, but that’s fine. I guess my main issue is I didn’t like him.
There were a couple of good twists and the solution is interesting if unlikely. The writing was uneven for me. I loved some of the phrases and descriptions, but it was also repetitive and rambling. I listened to the audio and it was a quick read for me. I think it would have been tougher to get through in print.