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.
"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.
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!