Posted in christmas, mystery, suspense on January 29, 2009

Author – David Morrell
Publisher – Vanguard Press, The Perseus Books Group
November 2008

And a child shall lead them
5 out of 5 stars

David Morrell is an award winning author for his novel First Blood in which the character Rambo was created. He has written other best selling novels such as Extreme Denial, Brotherhood of the Rose and Desperate Measures. He currently resides in Santa Fe with his wife.

‘The Spy Who Came for Christmas’ starts off with Pyotyr (aka Paul) running for his life in downtown Santa Fe being chased by his “partners” in the Russian mafia for a package that he took from the job they just started. The package turns out to be a child that is the son of a charismatic Palestinian, Ahmed Hassan, who preaches peace in the Middle East and is destined to change the future. Needless to say, Pyotyr’s boss is not happy that he took this child because those that want him have paid a pretty penny and they want him now and will not accept failure by those they contracted for the job.

The book starts off in the middle of the story and then goes back and forth to fill in the story until near the end where they only go forward. By doing this they really grab the reader’s attention because you wonder why this man is running through Santa Fe and you wonder what he is carrying and why.

As Pyotyr is running along the streets of Santa Fe, he has to find a safe place for him and the child. He stumbles across a residential community and finds a home that is occupied by a woman, Meredith, and her son, Cole, that are planning to leave her husband, Ted, because he is an alcoholic and a drunk. Cole is very protective of his mother and when he sees Pyotyr he thinks it is his father returning and is determined to not let Ted hurt his mother again. However, Cole realizes that this is not his father and manages to bring Pyotyr and the child into the house. This sets them up for potential danger should Pyotyr’s partners find him. Pyotyr manages to secure the house with the help of Meredith and Cole and while they wait to see what happen, he begins to tell the story of Jesus’ birth in the bible and the role of the Magi to Cole.

I truly enjoyed this book and the author’s spin on the story of Jesus’ birth and the possible role that the Magi had in helping keep Jesus alive and away from King Herod. It was interesting to see how the author took a story that we all know but in a different direction, that the Magi were spies (like the main character, Pyotyr) and perhaps their destiny was to keep the child alive.

This book is a fairly quick read and it kept me on the edge of my seat wondering if good or evil would prevail. The ending was a little bit of a surprise but it was a very good ending and I can’t see it turning out any other way now that I have finished the book. It is a combination of a spy novel crossed with a Christmas story and while it seems an unlikely combination, it works for this novel.

Reviewed by Leslie Storey for RebeccasReads (1/09)