Cozy Up to Christmas
Cozy Up #5
by Colin Conway
My rating: 2.5 / 5
Genre: Cozy mystery, Christmas
Ed Belmont just wants to make it through the Christmas season doing his job as mall Santa. But someone else is committing crimes around town wearing a Santa suit, and the cops are looking at Ed. Since he’s an ex-con in witness protection, the attention could be a problem.
I haven’t read any of the preceding books in the series, but events from them were brought up in this book a few times. Belmont (not really his name) was the bookkeeper in a gang and reluctantly became a witness against them, and now he’s force to move from place to place, job to job, to keep ahead of the danger. While it seems that previous identities were compromised and required relocation, this one had an expiration date—Christmas. Yet he does end up under suspicion for ongoing criminal activity, which also seems to be a theme in the series.
From start to finish, this is a fairly straightforward story with a protagonist who could be interesting, but feels like a caricature. He learned to enjoy reading, specifically mystery novels, in the first book in the series, and while I have nothing against a hardened gang member becoming a reader, it somehow felt forced to me. I could see what the author was trying to do in showing changes in this man who had been forced into situations and lifestyles he never would have chosen for himself, but for me, at least, it didn’t work very well.
I also think the overall story could have done with another round or two of edits. Maybe some dialog read out loud, some actions acted out. Characters were all the time touching each others arms and sleeves while talking, which I’m not sure is natural. And a lot of people in the story tended to act out what they were saying with their hands, again not necessarily common. While both of these things could have been a trait assigned to one character, having them be so widespread was odd. It also seems really important to the author that I know what everyone is wearing. It’s generally the first thing we’re told whenever anyone new is in a scene. There’s a woman who comes onto Ed so strongly it made me uncomfortable, and imagine if the roles were reversed and it was a man trying to convince a woman to let him touch her (sit on her lap, because, well, she is Santa, after all). It would be considered creepy, and he’d be labeled a perv, not just a humorous device to make the MC all the more annoyed at his lot in life.
The mystery wasn’t bad, but wasn’t super interesting or difficult to solve. There was a small twist regarding the various crimes that had been committed, and it did give Ed a chance to grow more in the story. I think with some refining, this could be a good book and a series I’d be interested in. It is a mostly clean book, with almost no profanity and nothing else that would bother me, minus the aforementioned woman trying to force herself onto Santa. While I don’t plan to read any other stories about Beauregard Smith (Ed’s real name), plenty of others have enjoyed it more than I did. If you’re interested, be sure to check out other reviews at the link below.
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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!