Quick Take: Wise Guy: A Christmas Tale by Joseph Bottum

I am a fan of Kindle Singles. Short unique works at a great price: 99 cents.  And having enjoyed Joseph Bottum’s previous Kindle Single I grabbed Wise Guy  to see how he handled fiction.  Plus, what better time to read a Christmas Tale then during a Christmas vacation?


Wise GuyThe twelve crimes of Christmas: Bart Sagan is a thief, yes, but more or less a good guy—at least, he wouldn’t rob an orphanage if he didn’t have to. Not at Christmastime, anyway. But then the local crime boss Harry King loses a shipment of drugs and orders Bart to burglarize the twelve addresses to which it’s been accidentally sent.

Can Bart and his ragtag band of independent criminals keep their Christmas spirit while breaking and entering at the behest of a drug lord? Can they keep their lives if they don’t?

A comic crime caper for the holiday, “Wise Guy” retells the story of Balthasar, one of the three Wise Men who followed a Star from the East for the first Christmas. Or as much of Balthasar, anyway, as a confused and slightly hangdog minor thief can manage. As much of a Wise Man as a Wise Guy can be.

I have to say I wasn’t blown away.  There are some gems of description as always with Bottum and the story is a quick read but it is rather disjointed and never quite comes together. I don’t think we know enough about the main character to really care or see the world with his eyes. An interesting hook but one that doesn’t fully deliver.

But that is the great thing about singles, it is hard to be upset when you finish a flawed but still entertaining read that cost you a dollar. It is a way to read interesting writers with little risk.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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