In the interests of full disclosure, in addition to providing the occasional exclusive book review to Tony Burton for his CrimeandSuspense zine, I also submitted to this anthology. Again this year, one of my darkly twisted stories didn’t make the cut. What did are cozy style stories that thematically often involve helping children and the less fortunate have a brighter holiday season.

Austin S. Camacho and his signature character “Hannibal” kick off the anthology with “A Mom for Christmas.” Margarita is a little girl who only wants her mom to come home but the bad men at the club she works at won’t let her. She sent her daughter to Hannibal to ask for help.

“The Alternate Plan” by Allan Ansorge involves two crooks who plan on taking the pot from a sidewalk Santa. Recently released early from prision and with nothing else to do but watch their target they soon realize that others are looking to score as well.

New Year’s visits to the home of Gerritt van Wiesal and his wife are customary in “A Merry Slay Ride” by M. E. Kemp. But, normally a sleigh doesn’t arrive with a dead body in it.

The traditions of Hanukah form the background of several stories in this anthology and are present here in “On the Sixth Night of Hanukah” by Helen Schwartz. Just after Christmas, a local police officer is helping provide security at a local temple. Open to the homeless, the temple has been vandalized by graphetti and the culprit could be anyone.

“Something Extra for Christmas” by Radine Trees Nehring recounts a simple trip to the mall that soon becomes a climatic life changing experience for all involved.

Frequent contributor Garry R. Hoffman’s story “Gracie’s Gift from the East” follows. In this story, a stranded woman is befriended by three men to the ultimate benefit of many more.

Turning the tables on people is also a part of the storyline in “Happy Holiday’s Times Three” by Peg Merring. Executing the plan is the key to this crime caper.

Editor Tony Burton makes his appearance through the story “Taking Her Medicine.” An unrepentant drunk driver keeps trying to be the life of the party and there are consequences for that act.

Marley is definitely dead in “A Christmas Carole” by Janice Alonso. Who did it and why are the questions.

Terrie Farley Moran works on the “Nick” angle in her story, “Just Call Me Nick” as do several other authors in this anthology. Santa pulls up at a local gas station driving a very old car. With reports of an evil Santa robbing gas stations, this Santa is not a reassuring sight.

“The Longest Night” by S. M. Harding provides New Mexico as a setting and the family is gathering. The family maybe in New Mexico but the traditions of the homeland of Scotland continue strong.

First you take the money then you roll the body downhill in “In the Nick of Time” by Gayle Bartos-Pool. Then you try to get away with the crime.

Concluding the anthology is “Team Player” by Marian Allen. Sometimes bringing in the well paid mercenary is not the best thing to do to pump up sales.

Contributor bios in alphabetical order fill the last pages showcasing where the involved author’s work has appeared elsewhere. This year’s forward is written by Stevenne Averback aka “Dr.Toy” and briefly mentions the history of the program. As in past years, the authors have donated their stories to this effort. After production costs and expenses, proceeds from the sale of this anthology will be donated to the United States Marine Corps Reserve “Toys for Tots” program.

Thirteen stories that are cozy in nature with the occasional twist make up this year’s collection. All the tales are interesting and safe to read for nearly any age group because there is nothing here that pushes boundaries in any way.  That makes the book a wonderful and entertaining gift for young and old alike and one you can feel comfortable giving to any reader.

Dying In a Winter Wonderland: An Anthology of Winter Holiday Crime Stories to Benefit the Toys for Tots

Compiled and Edited by Tony Burton

Wolfmont Press

http://www.wolfmont.com/

ISBN# 978-1-60364-005-3

Paperback

$11.95

  

Review copy provided by Tony Burton in exchange for my objective review.

  

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

  

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