When Christmas Comes

When Christmas Comes by Andrew Klavan

Expected Pub. date:  November 2, 2021

Review copy courtesy of Mysterious Press


After a confession of murder, a sleuthing English teacher will need a Christmas miracle to prove a condemned man innocent

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. (publisher)

My take:  When a former love interest of our college professor requests his help in an investigation of her client he can’t resist saying yes. Known to have an innate ability to see details others miss, Cameron Winter is someone to have on the case. He’s not without his own demons which I felt gave him compassion despite the melancholy that seems to envelop him. But melancholy does seem to insert itself into the holidays for many people, doesn’t it? At any rate, Cameron has good reason to feel that way. It wasn’t all melancholy. There were a couple of times when I appropriately laughed out loud. Depending on how you read short mysteries this one could probably be read in an afternoon but I took my time and read a chapter or two a day. It’s quite descriptive and the setting is cinematic – I think that Klavan should write the screenplay and maybe direct it. That’s how detailed it read for me. I enjoy a Hallmark-esque novel at this time of year but When Christmas Comes was an entertaining departure. Thanks to Mysterious Press for sending the ARC. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this author.

About the author:

Andrew Klavan (b. 1954) is a highly successful author of thrillers and hard-boiled mysteries. Born in New York City, Klavan was raised on Long Island and attended college at the University of California at Berkeley. He published his first novel, Face of the Earth, in 1977, and continued writing mysteries throughout the eighties, finding critical recognition when The Rain (1988) won an Edgar Award for best new paperback.

Besides his crime fiction, Klavan has distinguished himself as an author of supernatural thrillers, most notably Don’t Say a Word (1991), which was made into a film starring Michael Douglas. Besides his fiction, Klavan writes regular opinion pieces for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other national publications.