The Christmas Gift, by Richard Paul Evans

Book 64 of 50 Book Challenge, Book 3 of the Christmas Spirit Challenge

Evans is the guy that writes the heart-warming holiday novels.  I heard about him through Miss Busy, and saw him interviewed on CBS Sunday morning regarding self-publishing.  The Christmas Gift is a modern-day spin on A Christmas Carol.

James Kier is a real estate mogul in Salt Lake City who wakes up one morning and reads his obituary.  When I first read the back of the book, I thought this was a supernatural thing.  In fact it is just a case of mistaken identity.  Bummer.  However, he goes on to read the web comments and they are blistering.  So that was fun.

Kier asks his long-suffering assistant to make a list of people that he has wronged so that he can make amends.  Hence “The Christmas List”.  The story gets really good as he approaches these people one at a time:  (SPOILERS!)  First guy punches him out.  Second lady is all forgiving, but notes it is far, far too late to make up for what she has lost.  Third guy took the experience and turned into a bastard as big as Kier.  Fourth guy was found to have killed himself in the aftermath of Kier’s betrayal.  Fifth lady has fallen off the grid and can’t be found.

On the down side, Kier’s relationships with those closest to him are hardly explored, except for the schmaltz that dragged on a bit too long at the end.  Also, Kier lacked the overt denial of his situation and the sense of peril that hung over the head of Ebenezer Scrooge – both of which made the story more frightening.  The most frightening thing about this book was that it hit hard on the idea that people such as Kier really do exist, and succeed (financially) in this world.

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