Read Fields Where They Lay by Timothy Hallinan Online


It s the week before Christmas in Tinsel Town, and the Edgerton Mall isn t exactly full of holiday cheer, despite its two Santas. The mall is a fossil of an industry in decline; many of its stores are closed, and to make matters worse, there is a rampant shoplifting problem. Enter burglar Junior Bender, the unwilling fixer for LA s various underworld bosses. The murderousIt s the week before Christmas in Tinsel Town, and the Edgerton Mall isn t exactly full of holiday cheer, despite its two Santas. The mall is a fossil of an industry in decline; many of its stores are closed, and to make matters worse, there is a rampant shoplifting problem. Enter burglar Junior Bender, the unwilling fixer for LA s various underworld bosses. The murderous Russian gangster who owns the mall hires Junior to look into the shoplifting problem for him. But Junior s surveillance operation doesn t go well: within two days, two people are dead. It s obvious that shoplifting is the least of the mall s problems. Meanwhile, Junior must confront his own deep-seated melancholy at the very notion of Christmas both present and past."...

Title : Fields Where They Lay
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781616957476
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 590 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Fields Where They Lay Reviews

  • Bam
    2019-05-23 05:42

    I don't usually jump into the middle of a mystery series...but when I do, it's usually a Christmas installment that tempts me. Hallinan is actually a new author for me and I quite like both his writing and his anti-hero, Junior Bender. I call him an anti-hero, because Junior is a burglar extraordinaire. In this outing, Junior gets called in to figure out why a dying mall is having a huge uptick in shoplifting this Christmas season. Or rather, he is coerced and threatened into doing it by one of the Russian partners who own the mall. And of course the deadline is just three days away--Christmas Eve.Has Junior started his Christmas shopping yet? Of course not! So being at the mall is the perfect opportunity to get that done too. Junior is not a good hand at shoplifting himself so when he tests the waters in a bric-a-brac shop, the owner spots him immediately but treats him to a cup of Christmas cheer in the back room while they discuss what's going on in the mall. Bonnie confesses this is probably her last year in business because sales have been so bad.When Junior finds a dead body in the empty department store that was once the flagship of the mall, his quest turns into a murder investigation. So much more is going on here than meets the eye.This is an intriguing mystery, often laugh-out loud funny, not really all that Christmasy, but I enjoyed Junior's internal dialogue about such issues as the commercialism of Christmas and the true meaning of Christmas. And the tidbits of information about things like the origin of malls in America was very interesting. But my favorite of all was the little side story of the WWII 'miracle' told by the Jewish mall Santa; very touching.

  • Jo
    2019-05-23 10:43

    Cat burglar Junior Bender, the private detective for Los Angeles crooks, hates Christmas, and his Scrooge-like attitude gets worse when a Russian mobster forces him take on a case just three days before the holiday. After Junior is told that his teenage daughter will be killed unless he cooperates, he has no choice but to investigate why shoplifting has skyrocketed at a run-down suburban mall. The situation gets more complicated when one of the shopkeepers is murdered. Determined to find the killer, Junior searches for clues at the mall while painfully hearing The Little Drummer Boy and Here Comes Santa Claus over and over again. Along the way, Junior becomes friends with an elderly Jewish man who plays the mall’s Santa and tells him a moving story about a Christmas miracle. He also gets help from longtime friend Louie the Lost to find his Christmas cheer. Junior Bender is one of my favorite fictional characters. The wise-cracking burglar and investigator has a big heart and his own code of conduct. Timothy Hallinan has created a funny, memorable character in Junior Bender, the thief with a big heart and a moral streak. I love this series, which starts with Crashed. Check it out!

  • Julia Buckley
    2019-06-03 09:39

    An intelligent, humorous and philosophical look at Christmas through the eyes of Hallinan's Junior Bender, a self-interested burglar with a Robin Hood heart. What stayed with me most was not the well-crafted plot as much as Bender's ruminations between action scenes in which he ponders Christmas, human nature, the meaning of life and the reality of love.

  • Ted Lehmann
    2019-06-14 05:45

    Fields Where They Lay by Timothy HallinanJunior Bender is in a seasonal funk as Christmas approaches. It's three days before Christmas, he hasn't done a thing to prepare, and would just as soon not have to think about it. When his old client and adversary, gangstress Trey Annunziato calls in what she considers a favor, he must meet with a real estate mogul named Tip Poindexter at a local country club for lunch. Poindexter turns out to be an alias for a Russian gangster who rapidly becomes Vlad. While possessing a thin veneer of American real estate wealth, he's a dangerous man to have as a friend or an enemy, and he needs someone with Junior's skills to help him learn who's been looting a failing suburban mall he owns. Junior must solve Pointdexter's problem while discovering some ways to resolve his ambivalence surrounding Christmas. So begins Timothy Hallinan's fine Christmas novel Fields Where They Lay (SoHo Crime, October 2015, 385 pages, $25.99/14.99).Many thrillers and thriller writers are very strongly plot driven with a cliff hanger to end every chapter driving readers into a headlong race to the end. Other writers are so character driven that plot becomes lost in the explorations of the character. Hallinan stands almost alone, in my experience, for the balance between action, plot, and character found in his novels. They are not without their dramatic tension, which at times becomes almost unbearable. However, they are always balanced between the motives, ideals, and abilities of the protagonist and the demands of his tasks. (One wonders what would happen if he tried to inhabit a female hero.) Junior Bender is a thief, a thief with honor that sometimes becomes compromised because he works with other criminals, people who cannot go to the police for help. He also deeply values family life, but has difficulty maintaining adult relationships with women. His precocious pre-teen and teen characters are a total delight, as they live their private, sometimes dangerous, lives separated from the adults around them. These conflicts within Bender's life add to his depth of character, his interest, his anxiety, his faults, and his very great strengths. They also make for far more interesting reading than the run-of-the-mill Jack Reacher lonely gun-slinger come to town solve the problem and leave, character. (My favorite one of these remains Jack Schaeffer's classic western, Shane.)Typically, a Junior Bender novel (there have been five, beginning with Herbie's Game, which won a Lefty Award as the Best Comic Novel of 2014) opens with Bender in the midst of a burglary in the home of an unpleasant, possibly dangerous, collector, by nefarious means, of some rare and extremely valuable piece of art, jewelry, or other ill-gotten rarity when the situation begins to deteriorate and he must hurry to finish the job and escape. Sometimes he succeeds, only to find later trouble or fails, in which case he's forced to complete some sort of nastiness for the former victim. Junior, who comes from a difficult background that often figures in his story, has been a thief since he met his mentor, Herbie, as a prowling pre-teen. Now in his late thirties, he has been successful enough to have bought an elaborate hidey-hole in a Korean owned apartment complex, squirreled away plenty of money, acquired and lost a wife, produced a precocious, insightful, funny daughter named Rina, and become the go-to problem solver for a strange (and possibly dangerous) set of underworld characters. He is currently romantically involved with the mysterious Ronnie, who he is discovering he loves, making his relationships even more complex. His books are sprinkled with independent, smart kids, needy women, broken souls, and lots of think-twice-before-you-laugh wounded characters. Between action sequences, we are treated to periods of insights Junior has developed through his intelligence and experience. In Fields Where They Lay, within a typically ornate, convoluted plot we are treated to Junior's ambivalence surrounding Christmas, which mirrors the anxiety many of us feel. Junior finds himself spending the three days before Christmas largely observing the diminishing crowds in the Edgerton Mall, a downwardly mobile suburban mall in a dingy exurb of Los Angeles, through numerous computer screens of the security office and the eyes of several small store proprietors whom he befriends, one of whom winds up mysteriously dead. The mall also has two Santa's, one at each end. One of the Santa's is a nasty, child-hating man whose loathing is reciprocated. The other Santa, a Jewish man named Shlomo, recounts what becomes an interesting, seemingly irrelevant back-story about three soldiers lost behind the lines in Germany during the winter of 1944. They stumble upon a house where a young woman is in labor, as they become the visitation of the three wise men in the Christmas story. At the same time, Junior's new love, Ronnie, has disappeared to try to resolve her own issues with the holiday. Watch for the resolution of this plot line in a future Junior Bender tale. All the diverse threads of this novel come together in the end, but the path isn't always easy and new threats to Junior's future stability are surely introduced. Timothy Hallinan, after a career in the television and film industry as a publicist, a consultant on building web sites for televison programs, and an expert in building audiences, became a full-time writer. He now lives both in southern California and in southeast Asia. He presently writes two hugely different thriller series, building and maintaining two different characters, each both believably human and deeply complicated. The Poke Rafferty series, so far consisting of seven novels set in Bangkok, Thailand feature a travel writer settled into a life married to a former bar girl and prostitute named Rose, and having adopted a street child, Miaow. Poke's love of his family and Thai community life comes into conflict with the corrupt government, the sex industry, and child exploitation. All make an already complex life more difficult. In tone, content, setting, and emphases, these two series are quite different. The similarities include the main characters' almost obsessive love of family, and great, fast-paced writing. Fields Where They Lay (SoHo Crime, October 2015, 385 pages, $25.99/14.99) by Timothy Hallinan is a Christmas novel and the fifth in the Junior Bender series. As a seasonal novel, it diverges somewhat from the family/crime problems often confronting the hero, while still touching on them and opening some new possibilities for future entries. It sometimes seems a little discursive, but all the threads converge into a completely satisfying resolution which may even help those of us who harbor similar reservations about the holidays. Coming to know Timothy Hallinan, through his writing and his lively Facebook personna has been a delight for me as a reader and a fan. I've never met Hallinan, but feel I've come to know him through his revelations. I was provided an Advanced Reader's Copy of the book by the author, but read it an electronic version provided by the publisher on my Kindle App. I highly recommend Fields Where They Lay.

  • Constance
    2019-05-25 04:37

    Who doesn't like a dry crime caper set in a mall in the Valley during Christmas?

  • Truman32
    2019-06-08 05:55

    This being my first Junior Bender detective book (it’s number 6 in Timothy Hallinan’s series), I’m fully aware that I’m a little late to the party here. In fact it’s like I just arrived to the party and the hosts are already picking up all the crushed beer cans, what’s left of the cheese ball has been carefully swaddled in Saran wrapping and placed back in the fridge, Uncle Phil has finished espousing his culturally insensitive views to the uncomfortable partygoers and is now passed out on the couch downstairs, most of the lights have been turned off, and only that lonely guy who just got divorced is left to talk with. But hey, I’m here now!Junior Bender is a burglar as well as a kind of detective to the criminal underworld. He is a mix of Ray Donovan, Andrew Vachss’s Burke, Matthew Scudder-- but much nicer. He surrounds himself with friends and allies from the criminal underworld who are fiercely loyal to him and assist with his cases. And in Field’s Where They Lay, Bender needs all the help he can get.It’s only a few days before Christmas and the owner of the struggling Edgerton Mall has enlisted Bender’s services to track down the ring of shoplifters robbing the stores in his mall dry. The owner, a Russian mob boss, is about as Christmassy as a broken candy cane but he sees the thefts as an affront to his status so he threatens Junior to solve the mystery in a few short days or face the consequences of his murderous ire.Junior himself has his own hang-ups with the season. His Christmas spirit is like a kicked over snowman or a holiday card where the name on the envelope doesn’t match the message inside. But for the safety of his family he takes the case.The majority of the story transitions to a locked room variety of mystery as Bender begins investigating the people who inhabit the sad moribund mall. The independent storeowners, most struggling financially, the dimwitted security chief, the two Santas (one habitually inebriated and the other Jewish (and telling a holiday story going back to World War 2 when his father was trapped behind enemy lines) are all suspects. Bender is a great character: smart, tough, and damaged enough to carry a fair amount of angst yet still keeping his compassion for the suffering of his fellow man. One of the great things about first-person-written detective stories like this is how we get inside of the heads of these characters and get their views on all sorts of issues and thoughts about the world and times going on around them. Detectives from Phillip Marlowe to Travis McGee to Elvis Cole have passed on their opinions as they work their cases and Bender is no different sidetracking on cynical tangents regarding the holidays to mass consumerism to even the history of keys. Fields Where They Lay was a compelling read. Forceful and muscular storytelling with an irresistible hero in Junior Bender. Hallinan is a writer to keep an eye out for. I’ll be hunting down his earlier books immediately!

  • Suzy
    2019-06-13 10:57

    I loved this installment of a series I've had on my tbr list for far too long. What prompted me to read the latest in the Junior Bender books (#6) before any others is that it's set during Christmas. Each of the last 3 years, I've binged in December on books set during Christmas - books of all sorts, but seemingly lots of mystery writers set one or more of their series books during the holidays.Junior is a cat burglar who is hired by crooks and criminals to help them solve problems. This particular installment takes place almost entirely in a run-down mall in the San Fernando Valley in the 3 days building up to Christmas. He's hired by the Russian mobster owner of the mall to find out why there is an epidemic of shoplifting this Christmas season. Junior uses his thieving skills and network of others in his business to expertly figure things out. I flew through this, enjoying the many layers Hallinan wove through his story. Sprinkled with offbeat characters, cracking humor, touching episodes and philosophizing about the true spirit of Christmas, I imagine this will become one of my favorite Christmas reads. In the afterword, Hallinan reveals that he has a soundtrack that accompanies his writing of each book. That won me over to try more Junior Bender books, as well as perhaps one of his other two series if only to learn what his soundtracks are!

  • Waverly Fitzgerald
    2019-05-22 05:05

    i'm a big Timothy Hallinan fan, and I particularly love this caper series set in the San Fernando Valley where I grew up. Oddly enough, this is a Christmas story, a genre one would think Hallinan, wouldn't touch, but instead he totally turns it on its head: his protagonist, Junior Bender, hates Christmas and is desperately trying to figure out what to give his loved ones on the eve of Christmas) yet manages to twist the ending so a Christmas miracle does happen and the criminal manages to help a lot of people who desperately need help. In between we meet a lot of engaging characters, including a wise Jewish Santa, experience the desperation of Christmas in a shopping mall, and resolve a puzzling mystery. I have only one little quibble, which is that Junior Bender keeps "noticing" something odd on the video cameras, which is germane to the solving of the mystery, but it's never clearly described so it feels a bit like the reader is deprived of full access to the clues.

  • Sam Sattler
    2019-05-30 05:01

    Tim Hallinan’s Junior Bender books have something in common with both the bestselling crime fiction series of today and the classic series from the past: a main character who continues to evolve from book to book. Junior is a burglar’s burglar and he has been on a winning streak for more than two decades, but please don’t mistake Junior for Robin Hood just because he’s a nice guy. That’s not to say, however, that Junior gets to profit from everything he steals. Certain very powerful (and nasty) people know all about Junior’s skills, and they sometimes manage to find a way to compel Junior to do a little work for them on the side. Junior has not yet failed to get one of their jobs done – but he always makes sure that it happens under his own terms.As Fields Where They Lay opens, Christmas is just days away and Junior’s worst nightmare has come true. He is spending all of his normal waking hours – and many others he would much prefer to be asleep – inside the Shopping Mall from Hell. The mall has already lost all its anchor stores, much of its third floor is locked up tight, and most of the businesses still able to keep the doors open are just hoping to hang on long enough to bank a few Christmas sales dollars before calling it quits in January. Even worse, Junior has been forced to listen to the same recording of a “The Little Drummer Boy” so many times that he has to look in a mirror every so often to see if his ears are bleeding.Junior knows, however, that if he doesn’t figure out soon why the mall is suddenly suffering such a huge increase in shoplifting losses, he won’t be alive to hear the little drummer boy banging away on his drums on Christmas morning. The Russian crime boss who owns a controlling interest in the mall wants an answer by Christmas Eve, and has warned Junior that if he doesn’t have one ready he may as well not bother with this year’s Christmas shopping. A little to his surprise, Junior finds that he admires many of the hardworking shop-owners he meets and genuinely likes them. And after he stumbles upon the bloody body of one of his mall favorites, it all becomes very personal for Junior. Fans of earlier Junior Bender books will be pleased to see appearances by series regulars such as Junior’s best friend, Louie the Lost, but it is one of the new characters, a skinny mall Santa Clause named Shlomo Stempel, who comes close to stealing the whole show. Not only does this Jewish Santa provide wise counsel to Junior throughout his investigation, he provides exactly the Christmas miracle needed to put a proper seasonal topper to Fields Where They Lay.Bottom Line: Despite the odds against it happening, Tim Hallinan has managed to raise the bar on his Junior Bender books yet again. Do your friends a favor this Christmas - turn them on to Junior Bender.

  • Cathy Cole
    2019-06-05 03:53

    Amongst the enlightening legends and lore of shopping malls, Timothy Hallinan peoples Fields Where They Lay (as he usually does) with a first-rate cast of characters. Junior is a thief with a heart of gold. A man who stumbled into investigating cases for various Los Angeles area bad guys, and now couldn't stumble his way back out no matter how hard he tried. (It's LA's organized crime version of type casting.) Junior gets along with his ex-wife, adores his teenage daughter, and has fallen totally for Ronnie, a woman with a past she refuses to talk about. Along with the series regulars, readers can get to enjoy the denizens of Edgerton Mall, like Shlomo, one of the mall's two Santas, and Bonnie, a store owner who's never met a porcelain figurine she didn't like. Woven into the tapestry of characters and interactions, there's Junior's dislike of Christmas-- and why he feels that way.There's a lot of shady goings-on in that decrepit mall, and it's fun to watch Junior sort through it all. He's the absolute best character I know when it comes to thinking on your feet in dangerous situations. This man is a master at hiding and nano-second escapes. Love it!Is Junior going to figure out what's going on at Edgerton Mall? Is he going to be successful in carrying out a small job for Santa Shlomo (my favorite part of the book)? Will he get his Christmas shopping done? Can he avoid a personal crisis with Ronnie? How's Junior going to survive Christmas Eve at the Edgerton Mall?You're going to love finding out!

  • Viccy
    2019-06-18 04:54

    Junior Bender is coerced into finding out why a mall is experiencing an enormous increase in shoplifting in the weeks before Christmas. A Russion mafioso, improbably named Tip Poindexter, has made it clear Junior will face serious consequences if the thefts are not stopped. It takes a thief to catch a thief. As Junior sits in the security office, watching the mall traffic on the monitors and wanders around through the mall, we listen to his inner musings on his life and Christmas, in particular. Junior does not appreciate the Christmas feeling and with good reason. He meets a woman to whom he is attracted just at the moment in time when his relationship with Ronnie is taking a big hit. He is such a mensch. Then one of the shop owners in the mall is murdered and Junior is determined to figure out who would want to kill Bonnie, the most positive and up-beat women Junior knows. Junior meets Schlomo Stempel, who makes him believe in Santa Claus again. Another charming entry in a series that just keeps getting better; Junior's life becomes more transparent and his life with Ronnie becomes stronger.

  • Tucker
    2019-06-07 08:56

    In Timothy Hallinan’s new book “Fields Where They Lay,” Junior Bender provides an ideal remedy for the season’s ever-present (and sometimes annoying) Christmas music and overwrought sentimentality. Junior is a big-hearted burglar who unwillingly serves as a private eye and fixer for some major criminals in the LA area. His investigation of shoplifting at a dying mall in the days leading up to Christmas bring him into contact with some truly memorable characters, including a Jewish Santa who relates the story of an unforgettable Christmas Miracle. An added bonus to the Junior Bender series is the list Hallinan provides of the music he listened to while composing the book. His inclusion of Emmy Lou Harris’s Christmas album serves to restore some of the holiness and reverence to the holiday season. “Fields Where They Lay” is a great Christmas book to give yourself and to those who appreciate a funny, finely crafted mystery with terrific characters, unpredictable plot twists, and a perfect ending. Thank you to Soho Press and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.

  • Anmiryam
    2019-06-05 04:46

    I'm partial to thieves with hearts of gold, and it turns out Junior Bender is an especially appealing incarnation of this time honored figure. A bad guy and a good guy with a complicated personal life, Junior has a penchant for literary allusions and a collector of first editions as well as being savvy to the ways of the local mafia. He has a daughter and an ex-wife, a girl friend with some serious secrets and a group of friends who boast criminal intelligence paired with surprising sentimental streaks. In the course of investigating a sudden uptick of shoplifting at a failing mall in LA in the days before Christmas, he learns more about himself and discovers a surprising amount of good in others. This well crafted mystery is funny, touching and a perfect holiday read to reenergize you into action after last week's horrible election result.

  • Steven Picco
    2019-05-20 03:48

    Best so farWhy this guy is not on everyone's bestseller list is beyond me. This series and his Poke Rafferty novels are among the top of the genre. Miss them at your peril.

  • debra
    2019-05-22 09:55

    Audio My first Junior Bender. I really liked it. There were many interesting and varied characters, a well-crafted plot, that was not at all predictable, humor, and as an added bonus-riffs on assorted topics that provided really enlightening and historical info on numerous topics.

  • Carol Jean
    2019-06-18 07:55

    I started this book with high expectations, as I have loved the others in the series. However, this feels more like a short story padded out with a very long WWII memory, a weirdly attenuated romantic drama, and of all things a history of keys. Ah well, better luck next time.

  • David Benefry
    2019-06-02 04:02

    “Field Where They Lay” by Timothy Hallinan – It Takes a Thief to Catch a ThiefA Felonious Christmas with Timothy HallinanFor those who aren't up-to-date with the series, Junior Bender is a thief extraordinaire that has a bit of reputation in the criminal world, and has despite that managed to stay in liberty for quite a long time, as well as keep up his life as a single father. Anyhow, with Christmas being in full tow the Russian mobster-owned Edgerton Mall is facing quite a problem, aside from the fact that it seems like it's about to close any second now: a shoplifting epidemic. Reasoning that it takes a thief to catch one, the owner hires Bender to put a stop to this madness and hopefully cut back on some losses. Unfortunately for both of them, two dead bodies turn up and it becomes clear that more will follow if nothing is done.Realism and Absurdity Conjoined at the HipOn one hand, we have the whole murder plot which in itself is pretty macabre and gives way to some dark and serious moments that force you to reflect on the despicable bottom a human being can reach. The bad guys in this story are also portrayed in a very convincing manner that can wipe a smile off your face in an instant, just by reminding you that such people exist and are more common than anyone would like. On the other hand, this is a Junior Bender story, and it wouldn't be complete without a solid dose of hilarious absurdity. Much of the comedy is situational and borders on the ridiculous and inexplicable. Hallinan very skillfully combines those two elements to create a fast-paced and multifaceted story that accomplishes the primary goal of any murder mystery: to hold the reader's attention and make them turn the pages so fast they forget what time it is. A Touch of HumanityWhile Junior Bender certainly makes for a fine vessel to amuse us through his misadventures, the author ensures that we keep in mind that he is indeed a person with some depth, someone whose life seems to have taken a million bad turns. Not only do we become well-acquainted with his somewhat cynical and dismissive nature, but we also get a peek inside his own personal life where his realistic traits start to shine.The Final VerdictBringing all these thoughts together, Fields Where They Lay is certainly one of the more entertaining murder mystery novels to be published recently, especially if we look amongst Christmas-themed works. It has pretty much everything you could want from the genre, ranging from hilariously absurd segments to thought-provoking reflections and complemented by a solid plot with a fair amount of twists and turns. Timothy Hallinan did a commendable job on this and has certainly established himself as one of the powerhouses in this genre.This was an abridged version of our review. If you'd like to read the full one, you can do so here:

  • Daniel
    2019-05-20 04:49

    This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5This is book number six in a "Junior Bender Mystery" series. I have not read any of the other books in the series and because of that I think I was a bit lost right from the start. Junior Bender is a bit of a detective - but not for the good guys. He's a burglar who does a bit of detecting work for the criminal bosses in the area.At the start of the book, Bender is in the security office for a local mall. The mall, like so many around the country, isn't doing too well. Most people tend to shop online. But this mall is having some significant ups and downs during the holiday season. Enough 'ups' that the mall has hired two Santas - one for either end of the mall. But on the down side, there appears to have been more petty theft than usual, even for the holiday time of year.The mall is owned by a Russian gangster, who calls Bender in to investigate.At the beginning, I didn't realize that Bender was a criminal. We're informed that the mall owner has contacted him to investigate the theft problems. Without knowing any more, I immediately assumed that Bender was a detective or retired cop. So when I later read about his burglary tools in the trunk of his car, I'm confused. More-so when we're informed that the mall owner is a criminal. So who is Junior Bender? Of course if I'd read other books in the series I'd already know, but picking up this book new, I was confused. I only got to know more about him as the book went on. (Of course, if I'd read the Goodreads reviews before I read the book, I would know, but I prefer to read a book as fresh as possible so that I am not influenced by someone else's thoughts.Bender's dealings with the Jewish Santa, Schlomo, aren't what one would expect of a criminal (compounding my confusion), but I liked the gentleness and the holiday message here. It grounded the characters in a nice and fresh way.Unfortunately, despite some holiday philosophy, we also have a murder, corruption, and a threat against Bender's family. So much for the holiday spirit.What makes the book worth reading are the characters. Bender, Schlomo, and even the 'heavies' here are wonderful examples of literary characters that are unique and come across as quite real.What doesn't work so well are the multiple stories taking place. A mystery, with a red-herring or two, would have been fine. But the thefts, the murder, the history of Schlomo, the ... well, you get the idea. It was more than was necessary for a good mystery.Looking for a good book? Fields Where They Lay by Timothy Hallinan is the sixth book in a series - which is moderately important to know and has some great characters, but tries to tell too many stories.I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  • Monsieurh
    2019-06-13 07:36

    Originally I chose this novel for its Christmas theme. I wanted to re-discover the gentleness and the holiday spirit of Christmas through someone else’s eyes. Tim Hallinan and his creation, Junior Bender did not disappoint. Junior Bender is a twenty-first-century thief who apparently journeys on both sides of the legal line for the benefit of his friends. His perspective on Christmas is somewhat cynical, modern and urbane.At the start of this novel, we discover it’s three days before Christmas and Junior hasn’t done anything to properly prepare for the festive day. He has a daughter and a “steady” girlfriend. Suddenly Junior is roped in to investigate, on behalf of a Russian mobster and owner of a dying shopping mall in Los Angeles, why there has been a spiking increase in shoplifting in recent months just before Christmas Day.As Junior investigates, he comes across a panoply of small store merchants who are struggling to make ends meet. The author, Mr. Hallinan presents a series of different suspects who don’t fit the necessary criteria completely. Some of this information feels unnecessary and gratuitous. They seem to overload the reader’s attention and with the red herrings only make the waters murkier. The reader begins to feel that Junior is out of his depth as he tries to tackle this mystery. Even the spirit of Christmas becomes buried within the struggle to discover the villain’s need and greed for shop-lifting.During his scrutiny, Junior is befriended by Schlomo, a Jewish Santa whose attitude chips away at Junior’s cynical dissatisfaction with Christmas. This is the sixth book in the Junior Bender series and portrays an interesting anti-hero for our times. The final resolution is a satisfying settling of accounts that would even please Santa.

  • Gloria Feit
    2019-06-01 08:50

    Junior Bender, burglar extraordinaire and sometime detective to the underworld, serves as the narrator of this unusual Christmas tale. He is roped in to investigate, on behalf of a Russian mobster and owner of a dying shopping mall in Los Angeles, why there has been a spiking increase in shoplifting in recent months a few days before Christmas Day. Junior, who hates the Xmas atmosphere, is immersed in the Holiday cheer of shopping, Santas, and piped-in popular songs, much to his chagrin.While undertaking his task, he becomes involved in a few side ventures, including looking into the death of one of the shopkeepers, witnessing the death of another, and discovering the real problems at the mall, typical of similar establishments fading away all over the nation as shoppers turn to other outlets. Another involves his burgeoning friendship with one of the two Santas on the premises, helping him to recover a favorite item apparently stolen from his home. One side benefit, however: he is able to get his own holiday shopping done despite his procrastination.This novel probably is the most cerebral in the six-book Junior Bender series, with long passages on the business of shopping malls, their dying days, observations on the Holidays, people in general, and his own life and loves. In fact, he faces a crisis with his own lover and her reticence to divulge anything of her past. On the whole, Junior solves a unique problem in his typical fashion, with ingenuity.This is an excellent series, and one that continues to be recommended.

  • Bruce Morgan
    2019-05-26 04:39

    If one Santa inside the Mall is good for business, then two Santas can only be better. Right?Can Junior figure out who's behind a shoplifting epidemic before his "employer" has him bumped off?The premise that a master thief makes a good "detective for underworld figures" is wonderfully realised in this series.Junior Bender is a fully-formed character with confidence in his abilities and a way of staying alive while getting involved with some really strange and nasty types including con artists, snitches, standover men, hitmen (and women), bodyguards, bosses and big bosses while also staying one step ahead of the police.Timothy Hallinan is a consummate story teller. He lets us glimpse parts of Junior's character that Junior himself seems unaware of, while deftly concealing elements so that the reader is kept guessing until the final chapter.Highly recommended!

  • Daisy
    2019-06-09 06:01

    This book plain ole had too many storylines going in it. It had the shoplifting story, the murder story, the girlfriend story, the Santa Christmas miracle story, the teenage daughter story, the I hate Christmas story plus a few other minor storylines and after a while, they all became one big knotted jumble. One time they shifted a plot line in the middle of a chapter and I didn't realize it until four or five paragraphs in when things weren't making any sense and had to backtrack and reread them from a different point of view. I will say the solution to the shoplifting story was pretty good but by the time I got to it it was too late to save the book for me. Didn't hate it but think I'll pass on the series.

  • Kathy
    2019-05-31 06:53

    Although it took me a bit to adjust to the character, etc. (this was my first Junior Bender and Timothy Hallinan read), I enjoyed the tale by the time I finished. I've had this series on my "to read" list for quite awhile, based on book reviews, but this one was quickly available and I jumped right in. I will be going back to begin the series in order... I'll probably understand some of the back story better then.Just off the top of my head, the first author this reminded me of was Robert Parker and his Spenser novels. No not completely, but some of the feel of intelligence and quick one-liners, I think.

  • Stan
    2019-05-21 11:04

    Toward the end I wasn't sure the base plot premise made sense, but it's Junior Bender, and look what all you do get:1. A pretty great car chase in chapter 9.2. Casually dropped pithy comments like, "Women recover from ecstasy faster than men do."3. A surprisingly gripping story-within-a-story about a WWII episode.4. Contemplation about the Christmas season -- not only the usual denigration of its commercialism, but also an acknowledgement of the good impulses it encourages.Continues to be a great series.

  • Steve Black
    2019-06-02 07:50

    I came to this straight from King Maybe, which I loved. On the basis that I gave King Maybe 4*, but said it was nearly 5, I've given this 4 although it's almost 3.Still love the characters, but this felt like a feel good Christmas story that did,t have enough words, and so is padded out with a sentimental, saccharine and totally irrelevant WWII tale to ram home the Christmas message.It's not bad, but nowhere near as good as the previous 5. The most encouraging thing is that it has already perfectly teed up the next story, which hopefully will be back on full form with a lot more action.

  • Nancy
    2019-06-07 03:03

    Christmas Crimes Junior Bender styleIf you are a fan of Hallinan's Junior Bender series, you may like this change of pace storyline. The crime happens in a shopping mall at Christmas and the mall becomes a Claus-trophobic background for a slower paced story than we are used to in the Bender series. Not as many quirky, crazy side characters, but a much quieter, reflective Junior than we normally see. But, hey, the holidays affect us all in different ways. Still enjoyable and I gave it 4 out of 5 stars as my gift to Hallinan!

  • Kevin
    2019-05-28 03:40

    It was fun to jump back into the world of Junior Bender (even if out of order). Listening to this on audiobook was a different experience and I am not sure it worked as well as I would have expected. Sometimes Bender's voice grated on me. I also thought some of the side stories were distracting (the one Schlomo tells was interesting but distracting to me). But still Hallinan knows how to to do crime with a sense of humor and plenty of cynicism.

  • Mayda
    2019-05-26 06:52

    It takes a thief to find a thief, in this case, it takes Junior Bender. Offered a deal to catch shoplifters in a mall at Christmastime, he can’t refuse the job, if he wants to keep his daughter safe. It takes Junior some legwork and brainwork to unravel the scheme, but, being Junior, he won’t stop until he gets to the bottom of things. This novel is a bit disjointed with war flashbacks, but still, an interesting case.

  • Lisa Wright
    2019-05-19 07:00

    If you're looking for some light-hearted Christmas carnage, I highly recommend this Junior Bender mystery. The LA burglar is summoned by a Russian mafia guy to discover why there has been a huge spike in shoplifting at his woeful mall. Upon threat of death. Just days before Christmas (and Junior has "issues" about Christmas. Hallinan always makes me smile (and that is no mean feat this November!)

  • Elaine Mayes
    2019-06-16 08:49

    2.5 rounded to 3.0This book is EXTREMELY slow to start as though the author was searching for the story. I almost quit several times, but finally the last third of the book brought it all together. I can't say it was worth the credit (I listened to this on Audible) and I'm not likely to buy another Junior Bender unless it is seriously discounted.