It’s Christmas Eve in Santa Fe. But among the revelers on Canyon Road, a decidedly unholy scene is taking place. A desperate man, dressed all in black, feverishly seeks refuge for himself and the squirming bundle he holds tightly against his breast. Agent Paul Kagan’s bundle is a baby who has the power to change the course of global events. His pursuers are his former colleagues—members of the Russian mafia who will stop at nothing to accomplish their mission. Now Kagan is a spy on the run—he must ensure this baby’s survival, even if it will cost him his own life.
Just a short distance away, Kagan will find an unexpected pair of allies—a mother and her young son, who huddle together after a horrible episode of domestic violence leaves them alone, with no means of transportation.
And so, with the exquisitely honed skills of his profession and the help and good faith of a weary woman and a disillusioned boy, Kagan must take on forces that will stop at nothing. In the course of a wild and violent night, the unlikely trio learns lessons of generosity, courage, and selflessness, discovering within themselves the luminous strength of the true Christmas spirit.
I like trying different approaches to what a thriller can be. Thanks to a suggestion by fellow author Mary Kay Andrews, I decided to write an espionage thriller that takes place on Christmas Eve. The only spy thriller I know of that combines those elements is Ian Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
I set the book in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I live, because Santa Fe has a mile-long historic street called Canyon Road that has elaborate Christmas Eve decorations and attracts visitors from around the world. The story begins with a chase on that street during a snowstorm amid thousand of tourists. (We’re not like Phoenix—we’re a ski resort in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.)
During the course of the tense story, the spy of the title seeks refuge in a house that he thinks is empty, only to discover that it contains a woman and a 12-year-old boy. Knowing that his pursuers are about to attack the house, he tries to calm the woman and boy as he sets traps to stop the attackers. At one point, he tells them the spy’s version of the traditional nativity story in which the Magi are described as agents from Persia sent to destabilize Herod’s regime. This story-within-a-story—is what reviewers most talked about. Many ministers and priests contacted me to say that they based a holiday sermon on the book, which is about family, sacrifice, and redemption.
“One of the ten best holiday mysteries”
“Master storyteller David Morrell gives us an amazing holiday classic that thrills us with heart-pounding suspense while tugging at our emotions.”
“A terrific holiday gift from David Morrell—the father of the modern action novel delivers a unique, edge-of-your-seat thriller with amazing twists and riveting characters.”
“Exciting, moving, and terrifically clever—once again, David Morrell proves that he is a titan among thriller writers.”