I’ve been a bit heavy on the David Morrell reviews lately but this is the last one for awhile, I promise.
Morrell’s The Spy who came for Christmas is the book you never knew you needed – the Christmas spy tale. Paul Kagan is an undercover intelligence operative who breaks his cover to save an innocent baby who just might bring peace to the Middle East. Kagan finds refuge with a mother and son alone on Christmas eve, but his enemies are hot on his trail.
Ok, that’s the setup, so how does this do as a spy story? Surprisingly, it does quite well. There are several glimpses into what brought Kagan to that moment and an interesting look at the Russian Mafia. As Kagan’s enemies gather and he prepares to make his last stand, the suspense ratchets up and the action is quite exciting.
How does it do as a Christmas story? Again, it does well. Morrell sets the story in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He gives a taste of it’s distinctive Christmas tradition and peppers the book with mentions of other holiday stories and movies. The highlight of the book is a retelling of the story of the Magi, recasting them as spies. Not only is it a fun twist on a traditional story, Morrell also manages to make it seem rather plausible.
This is, like the Nativity, a story of new beginnings. Can Kagan regain his humanity after the horrible things he’s had to do while undercover? Can the family whose home he invades rebuild their life together? This being a Christmas story, the answers should be obvious, but that doesn’t make the journey any less pleasurable.
Last Words: If you are looking to get into the Christmas spirit but prefer bullets and chases over eggnog and hymns, this novel is perfect reading for a snowy night.