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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop

Merry Christmas!
I hope that Santa Claus brought you everything your hearts desired and if you aren't celebrating this particular holiday that your day was merry and bright nonetheless.

Today's introduction will be kept short as I'm certain you want to get back to the festivities of the day, but I couldn't think of a better time to introduce the title that I am about to...after all it takes place at Christmas in a bookshop and what book lover can resist THAT?  Today's book of choice is....

edited by
Otto Penzler

Aside from the gorgeous cover art and the attention grabbing title that speaks to any book lover's heart (really, isn't it marvelous?), this is a holiday collection of mysteries centered in and around The Mysterious Bookshop and more often than not, starring, in some fashion, the owner, Mr. Otto Penzler. You learn a bit about the shop (yes, it IS in fact a real bookstore) and the owner in each story, though you are cautioned that these "truths" are really fictitious in nature (hmm...I wonder...). The authors featured within this collection range from the famous to the infamous, so whether you are a mystery reader or not, you are bound to recognize at least a few right off the bat.  A truly fun bit of information about this collection though is how they came together for they were not simply written for this book's publication, but rather in response to a yearly request for the past 17 odd years from Mr. Penzler himself and released in singular fashion to his beloved customers; sort of like an extra Christmas present for them.  Now the world can share in the murderously fun merry stories even if we can't grace the store's doorway with our shadow (which would be very cool to do, but alas the distance for this reader is great).


On the story side of things, they remained a bit hit and miss for me, but that can be the case with any selection of books or writers; some just aren't your cup of tea. I think where it failed to hit its mark at times is that the tales were started and over with in the blink of an eye to keep with the "short story" format, however a few of the them needed more time to come into their own. Mysteries are the classic who-dun-its of the literary world and can be an acquired taste. Without the time needed to sort ones thoughts on the events transpiring, the narrator quickly leaves the reader behind while continuing to spin his/her own tale. 

That being said though, there were a few that stood out from the rest in one way or another.  An unexpected delight was found in I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus by Ed McBain.  You can probably tell from the title what the story is essentially about but it's not as morbid as you might think in fact they make a real case for the REAL Santa.  The 74th Tale by Jonathan Santlofer is a modern day flashback to those tales of curiously dark tales from none other than Edgar Allan Poe...certainly shiver inducing.  Then we have The Long Winter's Nap by Rupert Holmes, one tale in particular that I really loved the details incorporated; it made the story that much more vivid.  Last but not least (unless you'd rather me go on all day...hehe), we have My Object All Sublime by Anne Perry.  The gentleman in the starring role has a bit of a nefarious plan up his sleeve but the way he describes the bookish gift he intends to give...well, why don't you just read it yourself....

"I want a book he will treasure, for itself, not just what's written in it.  Something he can hold, touch, turn the pages and think of its history.  I want it to have meaning.  It must be a mark of my feelings for him, my respect, my regard." -- pg 120

~tear~ ...couldn't have said it any better if I tried.  A true book lover through and through....even if he has somewhat darker intentions moving forward in the story. 

In short, as with most anthologies or collections, there are those that I favored and those that I could have left behind. Do I regret the read? Certainly not especially with the select handful of gems I uncovered...but it is one to approach with the understanding that it's okay if you don't love each and every one. It makes the ones you do like that much more special.

Recommended read for older teens through adult readers looking for a non-traditional book to add to their holiday reading lists.  You'll laugh, you'll tear, you'll gasp as the plot is revealed down to the bare bones and if you are lucky enough to have figured out who was behind it all along the way, perhaps you'll even cheer. 

Review copy received courtesy of Jennifer at Over the River Public Relations.  (THANKS!)  For more information on them, feel free to visit their website.  The book was published by Vanguard Press and released in October of this year, so should it make your after Christmas wish list, check out your favorite retail outline...it should be ready and waiting.

Until next time....happy holidays....and happy reading!

10 comments:

Bookfool said...

The cover of that book is gorgeous. Merry Christmas!!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Oh how exciting to read this review. I just shelved this book last week and thought how divine it looked.

Thanks!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Yah I have the same story with short stories from time to time. Great honest review.

Universe in Words said...

Good review!!
The cover looks amazing!!
NEw follower!!
Have a nice Christmas!

....Petty Witter said...

I saw mommy killing Santa Claus - what a great title, it's enough to give children nightmares well into adulthood.

GMR said...

Bookfool: DEFINITELY agree on that. It's what caught my eye the first time I saw it....

Michelle: You too? Well then check it out....would love to see which ones spark your interest... ^_^

Juju: Thanks Juju! I knew I wasn't the only one with that problem....

Petty Witter: LOL. Yeah...I was caught off guard by it myself but ya know, reading it in context and everything matches the story perfectly.

GMR said...

Universe in Words: Thanks for the kind words and the follow! Happy reading...

The1stdaughter said...

What a fun idea! I would never think to put a bunch of mysteries together in an anthology, but I'm sure it's been done before. I can also see how you could possibly get lost in the story line though, with how quick it would have to be. Still, sounds like a lot of potential for a good Christmas mystery read. Fantastic review!

GMR said...

the1stdaughter: *nods*

GMR said...

the1stdaughter: *nods*

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