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by hmhibbit, January 22, 2013

The Five Santas
The Oncoming Storm, Book #1
By Jay Mims
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Marie-Reine

*Beware of possible Spoilers*

Though usually busy checking up on philandering husbands, Christmas is a slow season for private investigator Dan Landis and he has re-purposed his skills to work in Loss Prevention at a department store during “the Season,” as his boss, the very proper Mr. Peters calls it. But things go from bad to worse as he stumbles across a first, then a second dead Santa Claus. Despite the best efforts of his brother-in-law, Detective Gary Jones, Dan seems to have embroiled himself in the case. The body count rises, a jewelry theft occurs, and Dan must keep his wits about him if he is to rise above suspicion and help the local Santas stay safe.

The protagonist, Dan Landis, does not conform to the stereotypes of a P.I. He has a keen sense of observation but is young. He has some experience but is still able to be rattled by the sight of death. He is neither hard-boiled nor has he ever been on the police force. He exudes youth and charm, always cracking wise cracks especially—and amusingly—when it seems least appropriate. The author, Jay Mims, offers the reader a charming protagonist, whose wittiness defends against the violence surrounding him.

Dan is not the only character of note in this novel. Mims surrounds him with a well-balanced supporting cast: Gary Jones, a somewhat world-weary but intelligent detective; Abby, a dorky PhD student and a possible replacement for Dan’s deceased partner; Doc Brown, a professor and partner in adventure (still rather unknown); Julianne Jones, Dan’s sister (and Gary’s wife), and Bernie, a friend and medical doctor. This being the first book in the series, Mims begins to reveal his main characters’ back stories but does not share all the secrets his characters carry, and leaves certain plot details unexplored. He creates complex characters that are worthy of further exploration. Readers can look forward to the developments and revelations that are sure to come in future Dan Landis books.

Although The Five Santas is obviously Christmas themed, it should not be relegated to the status of a book that can only be read during that time of year. The plethora of pop references made by Dan as well as a few editing mistakes can be distracting at times, but it is a well-written mystery with engaging characters; a strong start for the Oncoming Storm series. Mystery readers will enjoy this book, but because of the diversity in its characters, it is also well suited for those readers less familiar with the genre.


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