Tuesday, November 12, 2019

White Elephant - Trish Harnetiaux

Next up in my Christmas listens is the newly released White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux.

Do you know the White Elephant game? I've played it at holiday gatherings in the past. Everyone brings a wrapped gift with no name on it. Numbers are picked and gifts chosen - and then they can be stolen. But what if one of those gifts has significance to an attendee? A maybe murderous participant? Right from the start, the reader is aware that there is a murder in the mix. The who and the why remain to be seen.

Aspen real estate agents Claudine and her husband Henry are the hosts for this annual event. Their staff are all invited to the party and it's to be held at a home the pair are hoping to sell to pop star Zara. That Aspen setting guarantees snow - keeping people in - and the cops out. Harnetiaux also brings in some fact to her fiction - actual murder mysteries in the Aspen area are mentioned. I'm not sure this belonged with the somewhat cozy tone of White Elephant.

 None of the characters are particularly likable, except perhaps Zara. Claudine, Henry and Zara are all given a voice, as is a mystery fourth person. Claudine is the one you'll love to dislike - a lot.

The timeline flips from present to past as details are slowly added. I did find that there was almost too much detail and thought it slowed the book down. But overall, it was a fun, quirky little listen - a cozy Christmas mystery for the ears.

Renata Friedman was the narrator. She has a really pleasant voice that is easy to listen to and clearly understood. Her voice rises and falls as she reads, giving movement to the story. She interprets the book well and provides emphasis where the plot calls for it. The voices she provides for the different characters matched the mental images I had created. Listen to an excerpt of White Elephant.

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