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In To Catch a Grinch by Angel Nichols, Lt. Patrick Holling disobeyed orders to stand down in his long-term investigation into a mob that has its hooks into all areas of public life, including the police and mayor’s office. In taking apart the entire mob branch, Holling’s partner gets killed, and Lt. Holling gets demoted to detective in the Holiday Crimes Unit. Known for refusing to work with partners, Holling gets upset when he gets assigned a new partner. Detective Julian Ives curiously has chosen to transfer to the Holiday Crimes Unit, despite its being the butt of jokes for all other cops. The jokes increase as their colleagues nickname them “Holly and Ivy.” But the “Grinch Gals” have been striking places of business to steal from them, and they have escalated to murder.
To Catch a Grinch introduces the set of stories featuring the team of Holly and Ivy, showing us how the pair became a true team. I liked seeing the journey taken by the pair of men who both should have been on the fast track to success in the police but have both ended up in the Holiday Crimes Unit, where officers end up because they either screwed up big time or upset someone big time. Neither of these men ought to be there. We see how Holling ended up there, though we don’t really understand why. But I will be looking forward to seeing how Ives landed in this miserable office. And the author truly does paint the office as miserable, with coffee stains “literally everywhere” and a bathroom you don’t want to go near.
As for the characters of Holling and Ives, Nichols reveals just enough of them to make them realistic but holds back enough to make them tantalizing for future books. I now find myself invested enough in them to want to hear more about this duo and dig more deeply into their past and current lives. I also enjoyed the cameo of Trudy, the medical examiner, who has a unique sense of humor, teasingly accusing Holling of wanting her just for her body, motioning to the body on the table.
Another detail I found intriguing is that the first scene in the Holiday Crimes Unit opens with the other pair of detectives in the unit interviewing a suspect in the abduction of three children. We don’t follow this case, so it becomes just an introduction to the unit, but I find this an intriguing way to draw our attention into the book in the first case.
The one thing I did wish were different is for the novella to have shown more of a process of detection. In keeping it short, the novella has had to sacrifice some of the mystery components in order to build up the characters and setting.
I enjoyed the narration of Chad C. Martin, who did an excellent job of creating the world of the Holiday Crimes Unit. He creates good voices for each of the characters. I especially enjoyed the fun way he brings to life the character of the medical examiner Trudy.
I appreciated To Catch a Grinch and had a fun time listening to this book. I enjoyed the touches of humor and creative characters. I look forward to listening to the next book in the series when it comes out. I give this book four stars.