'19th Christmas' a good fit for mysteries and chick-lit fans

'19th Christmas' a good fit for mysteries and chick-lit fans
This cover image released by Little, Brown and Co. shows "The 19th Christmas" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. (Little, Brown and Co. via AP)

“The 19th Christmas” (Little, Brown and Co.) by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

James Patterson’s newest book, written with Maxine Paetro, is like the socks your favorite aunt gave you a few years ago in your Christmas stocking. “The 19th Christmas” is comfort underneath its cover.

Sticking with the fuzzy socks analogy, this book is a good fit for fans of mysteries and chick-lit. It’s not high gloss or terribly stylish (definitely not Instagram worthy), but on those nights when you need a reliable companion, there’s nothing that you crave more.

Balancing her family and her job at the San Francisco Police Department, Sgt. Lindsay Boxer tries to have it all for the holidays. She’s running from a serious crime scene — a cop was shot and the suspect is dead — to tree-trimming with her toddler.

But this is, at its core, a feel-good novel, even with its blood, guts and bodies piling up. There’s no way the criminal mastermind, known only as “Loman,” is going to ruin that.

Oh, he tries: Loman has sacrificial “friends,” a plot to assume a new identity with a hefty offshore bank and an almost entirely frozen heart. It turns out, though, he has a soft spot for his wife.

Christmas is her birthday, and when he screws up his own greedy plan, he can’t let her take the fall.

He would let the snitches on his payroll do that, even his long-time associate (Dare we call him a “friend”?). He wasn’t going to let his “Bunny” rot in her orange jail jumpsuit, though.

Interestingly, Bunny — aka Imogene — is probably the most complex character in the book. She thinks she’s the housewife of a middle-class jewelry salesman, not a criminal mastermind. When she finds out otherwise, she doesn’t take it well.

Neither does the heroine Lindsay, of course. But she’s gotten a little hard around the edges and isn’t so sure of her priorities.

It’s a good thing she has her posse, including friends in the district attorney and medical examiner offices, and an investigative reporter — and a great New Year’s Eve around the corner.