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Friday 25 April 2014

The Santa Claus Killer by R.J. Smith

When I saw all the five-star reviews for this book, I thought, wow, I’m really going to enjoy this.

I did not. 

The (so-far single) one-star review I noticed lurking in the background seems to me to be the only honest one and, frankly, the only one I can agree with. Now, there are two.

What’s it about? In a nutshell, as the title suggests, a serial killer who dresses up as Santa and, well, slaughters anything that gets in his way and dismembers the odd few victims whilst he’s about it, trailing the bloody limbs behind him, in a bag, through the festively decorated Manhattan streets. A schizophrenic who has slipped through the net and was erroneously released from an institution. Not a bad plot-line for a story; in fact, this could have been really good, but it just didn’t hit the mark.

I couldn’t make out whether this was a screenplay trying to be a book, or a book trying to be a screenplay. There were endless centered, bolded, italicised, capitalised ‘sounds’. I know what a police car sounds like, I don’t need to read it, repeatedly, thank you. And really, 'Bang! Bang! Bang!' belongs to a child's comic, not an adult novel. The first few chapters seemed to be dedicated to introducing new characters, all rather randomly. None of the characters were developed. There were none that I liked, none that I disliked. They were all cold, dispassionate, without personality. Even the main character was just too implausible, ridiculous and OTT.

The writing was unrefined, unsophisticated, annoyingly riddled with errors, and the plot disjointed, jerky and full of holes. 

Whilst Smith’s reviewing friends, seemingly smitten by this book, are quaking in their peejays, apparently, scared senseless by a rampaging lunatic, I am not. I was too busy being incredibly irritated by hundreds of unnecessarily italicised/bolded/capitalised words and every-other-two-words-being-needlessly-hyphenated. 

I just can’t recommend this book.


  1. Thanks for this honest review, Cathy. You nearly always find some good to say, so this one must have been a real stinker