I received this review copy via Pegasus Publishers in exchange for an honest review
So I read this book in pretty much one sitting and I’m still having trouble decided if I liked this book or didn’t, and what rating it should get. Maybe writing out this review will help me decide. As a warning, this book is for adults only as there is explicit abuse/torture and rape. Christmas Turkeys was one of the books I requested from Pegasus Publishers because I’m trying to get into the crime/mystery/suspense genre.
Here’s a summary of the book (Goodreads):
In the aftermath of the cash-for-honours fiasco detectives at Scotland Yard believe they have uncovered a group of rich and powerful Establishment figures involved in serious organised crime.
Whilst DS Alex Norton investigates a possible connection between a dodgy albeit successful businessman and the smuggling of young Eastern European girls into the UK for work in the sex trade, links begin to emerge. However, Norton’s efforts are not appreciated and she is kidnapped by the gang – headed by Lord Hunter, a Falklands hero with some pretty nasty appetites – all of whom are willing to go to any lengths to prevent anyone from finding them out.
Chief Inspector Thorn and Kate – Alex’s sister – are determined to uncover the truth surrounding her disappearance and to disprove the rumours that Alex is a bent cop who’s vanished of her own accord.
Very early on in the book, we have a couple time skips. The first 25 pages are part of the past and that’s where we mostly get background information about some of our main characters like the Norton girls who move into house number 72. We learn about Norman, the lecherous old guy who lives nearby and has been trying to write a novel for some years but has failed to do so because the news always features an in real life event that coincides almost perfectly with his ideas. We also meet Mr. Hunter and get a mini-biography of his life. I considered these pages as the “boring parts” where the story hadn’t really started. A sort of introduction.
Once we hit chapter 4, we start to move along and a story is actually put into place. A story I find pretty interesting and have no problem giving a 4/5 but there are just a couple things that are making me wonder if I should rate this book 4/5.
Norman Conquest & Abuse
(aka. the biggest reason I’m conflicted about this book)
Because Norman is introduced as a character and brought up throughout the story, I feel like he should be important. Especially considering that his latest tale coincides with the investigation Alex Norton and her associates are conducting, but as the story progresses we get less and less of him. When he does get ‘screen time’ he’s usually writing about how abused and tortured his character Vespa gets in his book (coincides with irl Alex Norton’s situation), and how much that turns him on.
It makes me really uncomfortable. Yes, half the time I didn’t even know what they were doing with Alex and what positions she was in, but I knew it was abuse. Why go into so much detail? Couldn’t we achieve the same feeling of torture without all the details? Like, the number 52 during Alex’s initiation was just terrible for me. We didn’t get a detailed account of her being raped but just knowing it happened that many times made me queasy.
In a way, part of me is really hating it and another is saying, this isn’t the first time you’ve read something like this. In the books, Acheron and Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon, our main characters Acheron and Styxx get abused so much that I often wondered how they could go on. And the author didn’t just say ‘they got abused’, she actually showed us how they were abused in great detail.
I guess the difference between the two for me is that in Acheron (& Styxx) there’s a “happy ending.” Both characters end up meeting people that loved them regardless of their past and there was a healing process involved. In this story, the abuse and torture are only associated with Norman’s twisted fantasies.
If Norman were to be taken out of the equation, I think I’d feel a bit less disgusted as Alex’s torture would be associated with this criminal organization trying to shut her up.
I don’t feel like I’m qualified to speak about this topic, as it’s not something I’ve really read up on or even think about much in media. To me, this topic is something that just is sometimes (though I also think I’ve been lucky to only read stories with ’rounded’ female leads)
In this book though, I wonder if there’s just too much. Norman’s character is based on the idea of him being lecherous and having this obsession with Kate (to the point where he’d buy a cage for her, smh). He’s described by Kate as just being an old lonely guy and that he’s harmless. No, he never did anything to our characters (aside from fantasizing about them and keeping a close watch on them) but because the reader knows his desires, it feels like we’re saying that being a stalker is ok. To keep tabs on your sexy and hot lady neighbors is ok. To buy cages for one of them for some sexual BDSM fantasy you have is ok.
The only people who are kidnapped and tortured are women. We get some detailed stuff about being tied up and spread open, having balls in their mouths (I forget what this thing is called), having toys shoved into them, etc. Why not kidnap a guy and have the same things done to them? Why do they only get their garage and favorite car burned up?
There’s also the whole ‘she’s blonde and beautiful but also smart but let me just admire that ass’ attitude. Even Thorn, one of the nicer guys of the book and our main character, switched girls like they were only meant to be bedded.
Evidence Against The Alliance
I think being angry at how well The Alliance (a criminal organization headed by Mr. Hunter) covered their tracks and got out of police hands was understandable. With everything they did to the girls that were kidnapped, to Alex, and then what they planned to do with Kate, and then to see that they continued to function…I wanted to scream at our officers. But this was actually something I liked about the book because I’m sure this is something that happens. People are let go for insufficient evidence and the victim’s family and friends get no sort of comfort. People disappear and are never heard of again.
It happens. And it was nice to see how these officials act, the things they need to go through when one of their higher-ups are part of The Alliance.
In the end, I think I’m going to rate this book a 2/5 for a Goodreads rating of it was ok. The whole investigation part was really interesting but adding Norman to the mix really made me dislike lots of aspects. If maybe he’d been useful for something, I might have had a different opinion but mostly I ask myself, what’s the point? Why is he there? Why couldn’t this just be a “tale of crime and corruption” instead of some novel a creepy, lecherous guy, who took pleasure in women being raped and abused, was writing?
Also, all the female characters were blonde and hot and I don’t think I’ve ever met a natural blonde with blue eyes so it was really hard to 1. picture this apparent beauty and 2. create a connection. Not because she was blonde but because she was perfect. Brains and beauty.
The ending was also pretty inconclusive as we did have another kidnapping. In a sense, I feel we’re being told this is a never-ending cycle, and that justice doesn’t always win.
If anyone else decides to read this, let me know what you thought.
You can find this book on Amazon for $17.99
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