Fields Where They Lay is a Christmas mystery featuring Junior Bender, a professional thief of whom I'm a big fan. Junior has issues with Christmas, which is a problem, but so does his girlfriend, Ronnie, which is an even bigger problem. But that's not the main plot of the book. The main plot has to do with the fact that Junior is now not so much a thief as a guy who does favors for other thieves or lawbreakers. One to whom he owes a favor calls it in, and Junior finds himself working for a Russian thug who, with several other Russian thugs, owns a failing shopping mall. It seems that there's an unusual amount of shoplifting going on, and the thug, who calls himself Tip Poindexter (Junior calls him Vlad), wants to know who's doing it and why. Junior has to find out in two days. Or else.
There are two Christmas stories here, the one I just outlined in brief and one that a mall Santa (there are two of them) tells Junior. It's about the Santa's father in WWII, and it's about a real Christmas miracle. And it has a fine tie-in to the title of the book, as well. The title, of course, comes from a carol called "The First Noel," and there's a lot about Christmas music in the book. You may or may not find yourself agreeing with Junior about it.
The main plot works out just as well (or even better) than you hope it would, and the ending has Junior making a promise that's probably going to change the course of the series when he follows through, as he surely will.
Hallinan gives us plenty of great dialogue and great characters, terrific pacing, and a couple of highly satisfying Christmas stories. If you're looking for the perfect book to give someone for Christmas (and they already have all of my books), then this is the one to give. You can't go wrong.