Fields Where They Lay by Timothy Hallinan

I read Hallinan’s Poke Rafferty series all the way through and they got better and better – the last was published in 2016.   But his Junior Bender series debuted in 2012 and for some reason I avoided it – the sample didn’t appeal to me,  the idea of being in a bad-guy’s head wasn’t enticing – I don’t know.   But when I was looking for Christmas mysteries to read these last couple weeks of December I saw his Fields Where They Lay.  But it was #6 in the series already!   –

Oh well – I’m not that much of a stickler for series order,  it really depends on the series and how much over-arching plot line there is.   This is the same way I found the Monica Ferris series – I started with a Crewel Yule (#8) for a Christmas read and have kept up all these years.  I have no idea which James Lee Burke I started with more than 25 years ago,  I think it was In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (1993) – #6.  And I’ve kept going.   With the Hallinan,  I hope I’ll go back to book 1 and read them this  upcoming year.

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*******
Fields Where They Lay
by Timothy Hallinan
2016 / 384 pages
read by Peter Berkrot 10h 41m
rating – A+
*******

On to Fields Where They Lay –  It seems there is a plague of shoplifters and an extra Santa at the sad, rundown Edgerton Mall in the suburbs of Los Angeles.  Junior has been called in to stem the tide,  but it seems there is something else going on,  something a tad more intense.

Unfortunately Junior is not a happy camper and Christmas brings out the Scrooge in him.  As a favor to an old “friend” and mall worker, he meets with Tip Poindexter,  a real estate tycoon.  Turns out  Poindexter , aka Vlad, is a Russian thug who owns the mall.   Junior returns to the mall  from his lunch with Poindexter to find there’s been a murder.  He talks to one of the Santas,  a wonderful old Jewish man named Shlomo who eventually relates a pieced-out backstory of miracles from WWII. .

Meanwhile, in his private life,  Junior is now settled into a nice apartment with his semi- long term girlfriend, Ronnie.  But she won’t even talk about Christmas – something is wrong.  And his daughter who lives with her mother needs a gift but … what would that be?  She’s intelligent, funny  and for awhile,  possibly in danger.  It looks like she might be the vulnerable target of some very bad people.

The book is smart,  good humored,  sometimes thoughtful and even heartwarming  – alongside having the expected murders and chases.   Fun –  I’ll be reading more of the series – probably start with the first one  – Crashed.  

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