Someone is killing department store Santas, but why? Dan Landis, subjected to working Loss Prevention at a local department store for the season intends to find out. If he can stop tripping over red velvet draped corpses long enough to investigate, and to keep himself out of jail.
Review of The Five Santas by Jay Mims by blogger JeanBookNerd:
The holidays, shopping mall Santas, and murder? Who would have ever thought that those three elements would make for a great murder mystery book? The Five Santas by Jay Mims was a well thought-out story about a private investigator named Mr. Dan Landis, who tries to uncover the mysteries behind the murders of the department store Santas.
Mims’ character development for Mr. Dan Landis was radiant. He is your atypical detective that manages to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The private investigator has a strange sense of humor that I found myself laughing and smiling throughout the book. Even his investigation process is out of the norm but pulls the reader in to investigate alongside Mr. Dan Landis. The other characters are carefully crafted that readily engages the reader page-by-page.
The conclusion of the story was just the right mixture of satisfaction and anticipation. Mims has provided us a great holiday/murder mystery story that is surely appreciated. Mims’ writing style was easy to follow and had myself guessing who the culprit is until the end. It was a fun and suspenseful story. It was a perfect read during this merry time of the year. I look forward to Mims’ works as The Five Santas made me a fan of his.
What a different book- a breath of fresh air!
In a world of detective stories filled with overt violence and constantly seething rage, this is one that takes a lighter approach. Mims' first effort is fun, page turning and he really finds his voice as he goes along. He drops some big bombs right at the end and I am very interested in what happens next. I would recommend this book to any age group going down to middle school. Very family friendly. Low violence even though it's a murder mystery and the romance is sweet, not explicit.
4.0 out of 5 stars More Dan Landis, please!, February 10, 2012 on Amazon
Kristy - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Five Santas (Oncoming Storm) (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this fun, entertaining mystery/detective novel. The characters are quirky and realistic--I especially loved Dan's sense of humor, and all his pop culture/movie/TV references and one-liners. A well-plotted mystery, a touch of future romantic possibility, and five santas... what's not to love? And at the end, we're left with the carrot-on-the-stick tease of the next Dan Landis adventure! Can't wait to see what happens next with Dan and his cohorts.
4.0 out of 5 stars What happened to Santa?, December 14, 2011 on Amazon
Bonnie Colvert (Florida, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Five Santas (The Oncoming Storm) (Kindle Edition)
What an enjoyable read, especially for me because it is that holiday time of year. It took me a little while with the hustle and bustle of the holiday, shopping, working, extra errands etc. But let me tell you every little snippet I could read at any given time was well worth it. To me this is a laugh out loud funny story with the characters being so believable. The sad part is why is someone killing the departmnt store Santa's? See how Mr. Dan Landis, P.I. struggles through to figure out this mystery. I am hoping that this character is going to turn into a series!
“Yep,” Dan confirmed to himself, “This is bad.”
A dead body stuffed behind a dumpster was never a good thing. A body dressed as Santa Claus just a few days before Christmas, was really bad. Dan picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. He could use a little mental escape right about now.
He gingerly put down his foot, the pain in it now secondary. He leaned in for a closer look. He was no pathologist, but the body definitely looked dead. Color, position, plus a creepy lifeless stare. Not gaggle of girl scouts staring at him creepy, but creepy nonetheless.
“Probably dead,” he declared to no one in particular. The silence was beginning to bother; him.
It was possible Santa had died of natural causes. And somehow became wedged behind the dumpster. But as a general rule, a body stuffed behind something in an alley usually meant murder. Or, Santa was playing Zombie hide and seek.
“Olly olly oxen free?” he called out, just in case.
The dead Santa didn’t move. Well, the red suited, white bearded, fat white corpse didn’t move. Which was good because Dan was not prepared to deal with Zombie Santa.
Which Santa is this? Was this? It was hard to tell. Murphy’s had a Santa; a pretty authentic looking one at that. And there was at least one more in the area.
The silence was starting to weigh heavy on Dan. No bells were ringing, anywhere. Their absence was suddenly deafening, the silence pressing hard against his chest. He looked closer at Santa, trying to tell.
Is this the street corner Santa from outside their store? Maybe. The dead man definitely resembled the Santa from the street corner. Maybe it was the one from three blocks down. The problem was: all Santas looked alike to him. When you’ve seen one bearded old white guy in a red suit, you’ve seen them all.
He walked back to the Emergency Exit, trying hard not to disturb the crime scene. Contrary to what Hollywood wanted you to think, crime scenes were for trained professionals. Not private investigators.
From his perch near the door, Dan could see the red hat lying off to one side, near the white haired head. It occurred to him that no, he hadn’t seen the street corner Santa today. Although it had been early, and even Santa was entitled to sleep in by Dan’s reckoning.
He leaned against the exit door and sighed, grateful for the low temperatures. Santa could have been ripe had it been above freezing. He looked around; the area was deserted, which was a relief. Last thing he needed was for someone to come by and start jumping to conclusions.
The door burst open thunking Dan in the back. Its hard metal radiated cold through Dan’s thin shirt shocking his skin. Dan nearly screamed. He whipped around.
“Mr. Landis, what are you doing out here?” The beginnings of a lecture faded quickly. “What on earth?” Mr. Peters yelped.
Dan stared wordlessly at him. He thought about saying, “It wasn’t me,” then figured that would be pointless.
“Hello Sir,” Dan said instead, trying to keep his voice level. It was always important to remember courtesy, even at the worst of times. “As you can see, we have a problem. With your permission Sir, I’d like to call 911,” he suggested, using his most professional voice.
“Absolutely not, I will not have The Season disrupted,” Mr. Peters attempted to maintain control of the situation.
It was always “The Season” for Mr. Peters. Never Christmas, the Holidays, or even Festivus. Calling it “The Season” made Dan think a rampaging hunt was going on.
He glanced around the empty alleyway. Still deserted. He fought down the impulse to beat Mr. Peters senseless. While it would make him feel better, it probably wouldn’t accomplish anything. Instead he tried the reasonable approach.
“Mr. Peters,” Dan used the calm and reassuring voice that always worked its magic on soon to be divorcees. “I assure you I will be discreet. If we don’t report this body and someone else does, we lose the opportunity to seize the momentum. It’s all about spin control.” Dan’s fists itched, desperate to pummel.
Mr. Peters stared at him and then, slowly, he sighed. It was the first human thing Dan had seen the man do, even if it was a bit theatrical. “Of course, Mr. Landis. Please perform your official duty as a representative for this store.” Mr. Peters waved a hand dismissively.
Dan watched the man turn to leave, pausing for a moment mid-turn. Mr. Peters looked toward the heavens for strength.
“Mr. Landis,” Mr. Peters started, staring at the sky, “Please inform the police there are no security cameras in this area. This is a mistake I will remedy immediately.” He left, the door slamming shut behind him.
Dan exhaled. He glanced at the dead Santa. “Just between you and me pal,” he told the body, “that guy’s getting on my nerves.”
Dan didn’t add that Mr. Peters had hit on something with the cameras or lack thereof. He hadn’t even noticed their absence; he’d been too busy looking for the red-headed shoplifter. It crossed his mind that she might have killed Santa, then dismissed the idea.
No one who wore a sweater that goofy, guaranteed to draw attention, would kill someone. Plus, she didn’t have time. Though how she disappeared was still a mystery.
Maybe she was his elf? Dan thought on a whim. He decided to forget the woman for now. It was time to call the police. Fortunately, he had them on speed dial. One of them anyway. He dialed. The line was busy.
“Crap,” He hadn’t anticipated Gary not being readily available. Of course, he hadn’t expected to find a dead body either. He tried again.
“Who are you talking to at nine in the morning?” Dan screamed at the phone while the voicemail version of Gary blathered monotonously about leaving a message. He bit his tongue. Drawing attention was the last thing he needed. He put his phone away, and took a breath. He almost gagged.
Deep breaths were never a good idea around evacuated bowels. Dan leaned his head against the door, staring at the sky. He tried taking shallow breaths, concentrating on other smells.
The smells of the city wafted down the alley. Exhaust fumes mixed with industrial salts, the press of people, and the far off smell of something deep fried. Dan felt himself relaxing. This city was insane, but it was home.
The diner across the street was serving a brisk breakfast crowd. He wondered if they’d seen anything. From this viewpoint he could see clear across the street to the busy sidewalk.
Closing his eyes, Dan mentally walked out into the street. He had passed this alley a hundred times; from the parking garage to the store, and back. He had ambled past this morning, in fact.
There was a wall. A wall that hid the dumpsters from view. It wouldn’t have surprised him if that was Mr. Peters’ idea, to keep any hint of garbage from view. But, the left hand side where he stood was visible. That probably didn’t help much, unless Santa and his assailant brawled across the alley. Doubtful. Dan was about to lash out with his foot and kick a can, when he stopped.
Almost forgot where I was he mused, tossing a glance over his shoulder at the unmoving black boots. Given his luck, the can he kicked would have been filled with concrete.
He tried calling again. The number Dan kept dialing was Gary’s work number, his direct desk line. He also had the big man’s cell, except this was business. Business meant you used the business phone. And when you found the body of Father Christmas, you didn’t just call 911, you called the best cop on the force.
He glanced at the dumpster again. Santa still hadn’t moved, which was good. The minute he did, the Guinness people had better be there because Dan was prepared to set a land speed record. He pressed redial, listening to the busy signal.
Something was missing from the alley. He flipped his phone shut and looked around. The entire city was speckled in white, but the alley was untouched by the off-white slush. Looking up, he noted the massive overhang and gutter system.
Well, that was no help, he thought. Snow would have meant shoe tracks, telltale mud, maybe someone’s name written out in red or yellow. He lashed backward with his foot against the door.
The thump of the metal fired a synapse, and Dan realized with a shock he was locked out. Except the Lord of the Dorkocalypse had gotten back in. There was no handle on this side of the metal security door. Dan ran his fingers along the edge, tracing the frame. He felt his fingers slip into the groove and he pulled. The door came forward easily. That was interesting.
“Very interesting,” he muttered to himself. The door should be locked from the outside. He shut it, and then opened it again to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.
Dan decided to file this little tidbit under ‘To check out later.’ He swung the door back and forth, breathing in the store’s recycled air.
It was hot and slightly sickening, still it beat the dead body smell. Dan stepped back into the cool air of the alley, and tried to think.
Other than Gary, he didn’t know any cops. He corrected himself, he didn’t know any he could trust. He stared at the phone and dialed again. No answer. He wondered if he should call 911. Glancing at the time, Dan put his phone away. He’d give it another minute. Dan was reasonably sure Santa still hadn’t moved.