It's three days until Christmas and Junior Bender, Hollywood's fast-talking fixer for the felonious, is up to his ears in shopping mall Santas, Russian mobsters, desperate holiday shoppers, and ('tis the season) murder.
The halls are decked, the deck is stacked, and here comes that jolly old elf. Junior Bender, divorced father of one and burglar extraordinaire, finds himself stuck inside the Edgerton Mall, and not just as a last-minute shopper (though he is that too). Edgerton isn't exactly the epicenter of holiday cheer, despite its two Santas, canned Christmas music, chintzy bows, and festive lights. The mall is a fossil of an industry in decline; many of its stores are closed, and to make matters worse, there is a rampant shoplifting problem.
The murderous Russian mobster who owns the place has decided it takes a thief to catch a thief and hires Junior - under threat - to solve the shoplifting problem for him. But Junior's surveillance operation doesn't go well: as Christmas Eve approaches, two people are dead and it's obvious that shoplifting is the least of the mall's problems. To prevent further deaths, possibly including his own, Junior must confront his dread of Christmas - both present and past.
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Hard to find the Christmas spirit here.
Not possible. I love Tim Hallinan, who is one of the most talented and funniest writers we have. His Poke Rafferty books are wonderful. However, the Junior Bender series is, from my point of view, a failure. This story is about Junior's wild experience tracking shoplifters at a mall on Christmas. Does that sound funny to you? Me either.
Certainly. I will listen to every Poke Rafferty book that Tim Hallinan writes. However, the Junior Bender series is just plain weak. It's not funny. I do not get interested in Junior's escapades of theft in LA, nor do I want to get to know the other characters in the books. They are lowlifes. I just don't understand why Tim continues to write these things. I am sure that he didn't want to get trapped in the Poke Rafferty series, but this series is not an alternative. He should try another by this time. Six books in...enough already.
Peter Berkrot is fine He is doing the best he can with the material he is given. I don't believe that there is any narrator who could render these books salvageable. I keep listening to them out of my love for Tim's other work, but I have run out of faith that he can pull a rabbit out of this particular hat.
The whole thing.
Nope. Don't waste your money. Read the Poke Rafferty books. They represent Tim at his finest, which is fine indeed.
- Richard Delman
Hallinan and Berkrot are a dream team
- Terry Bowman