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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Would you ever consider breaking into a nursing home for a few good nights' sleep and some hearty meals? Well, homeless John Lester thought it would be a good idea. It was winter; cold and only going to get colder. After studying the comings and goings at a certain nursing home and noticing a body being taken away, he knew there had to be a vacant bed. It was almost Christmas Eve, the weekend, and there wouldn’t be a new person claiming this bed anytime soon. When Matt appeared, having been stranded when his truck was stolen and with little money in his pocket to set him up somewhere, he struck up a conversation with the old World War II veteran, a conversation that would have them both weaving a web of lies in a caper that would bring the staff at the nursing home into a good, wholesome conspiracy to lift many spirits in an otherwise dismal setting. Christmas is a time for miracles, isn’t it?
J.L. Salter’s Christmas novel, The Yuletide Caper, is both fun and compassionate. Full of lively events, narratives, dialogue, and lots of conspiracy as a young man and his older accomplice struggle to keep their stories straight while they manage to maintain a safe and warm presence in a place they didn’t belong, the co-conspirators (residents and employees in the home) have their own fun in playing along with the caper. The author sets the stage with ease, making the unlikely scenario into a totally believable one. With a compelling descriptive narrative and riveting dialogue, the story is both plausible and humorous. This is definitely a fun read, one full of compassion for the workers in these nursing homes and the residents who must accept their final fates in life.
As Matt struggles to justify his role in this caper, he learns about the others: the employees and the residents. For him, it’s an eye-opener as he comes to terms with each person’s role and their acceptance of their roles. And what good, wholesome Christmas story, one with a multitude of miracles just waiting to happen, would be complete without a gentle love story to wrap it up? I couldn’t put The Yuletide Caper down. Loved it from start to finish. My only regret is I wanted to know what happened to all the characters – the true sign of a good book is one you wish would never end, but it does. The story’s future is left up to the reader’s imagination.