Book 65 of 50 Book Challenge, Book 4 of Christmas Spirit Book Challenge
The Russian Mafia kidnaps the infant son of a pacifist who has been gaining popularity in the Middle East. During the getaway, the American plant in the gang makes off with the kid. He ends up in the house of a boy and his mother, who had been beaten by her husband earlier in the evening. After smashing her face, the husband called the host of whatever party they were attend to claim their son was sick. Then he smashed all of the phones in the house, and took the cell phones and car keys with him. I mention this to establish that this is the kind of wife-beater that thinks of what happens next and attempts to cover his tracks in a way that suggests this is not a first-time occurrence. Oh yeah, and it is Christmas Eve.
In flashback, we see how our hero, Paul, came to infiltrate the Russian Mafia. Why he stuck with the job and why he finally blew his cover. He convinces the boy and his mother that he is a good guy and they take care of the baby while he starts setting booby traps in the house – he’s pretty sure the bad guys are right outside the door.
There is a big, long stretch where Paul tells The Christmas Story to the boy from the point of view of a spy. The suggestion is that the magi were really double agents. Whatever. I only mention it because this is the only link the book has to the holiday.
The story became really interesting when the husband showed up. He is a whiny-pants prick, but he figured out that the bad guys are the bad guys. Eventually. He helped Paul take one of them out. After the dust settled, we were left with the understanding that he had redeemed himself with this heroism.
The drunken wife-beater, with the presence of mind to smash the phones and take the keys so that she can neither leave nor call for help nor leave him…I was offended enough for it to have ruined the story for me.