The perfect thriller for the holidays: White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux

The elevator pitch: 

Million dollar Murder listing

What i liked: 

Claudine, a fifty-year-old real estate agent, is obsessive about presenting the perfect facade. Every detail of the holiday party she will throw at a lavish property has to be perfect. Her guests receive careful instructions. They want to be there but are also coerced in participating in the White Elephant gift exchange, and their presents better blow the guest of honor away. The guest of honor is the pop diva Zara.
Being a control freak like Claudine is not a good thing, but sometimes it pays off. And it certainly pays off That White Elephant is carefully constructed down to every detail. The style and substance of White Elephant perfectly coincide. It is compact; the plot sparsed out flawlessly. I like books that are economical, spare, and to the point, and White Elephant unwraps his mystery with great attention.
For those who don't know what a White Elephant gift party is, it's holiday gift exchange with a nasty twist, where guests are allowed to steal each other gifts. And it's an excellent title, seeing this is a story about greed and stealing the most prized possession from someone.
It's an appropriate holiday book for the ones that don't necessarily think of it as a magical time. The setting is lovely, though, Aspen, just as the first snow starts to fall. But even there gloom lurks underneath.

Their protagonist is all well-drawn. I liked Zara, the pop star, the most.
Somehow it made me think of the Miley Cyrus episode of Black Mirror. The story is told from several points of view, and Zara's is fresh. She is astute, acerbic, and fair. Driven by a broken heart, she heads to Aspen to take a  look at a house. She is obsessed with a true-crime story that happened there long ago, and totally by accident, she becomes the center of another murderous disaster.
White Elephant does take its sweet time getting to the real drama. Like the gift exchange, it ups the ante, going from a cozy holiday party, and some very nervous real estate people, staging this party all for Zara benefit, to a decade long mess, and the consequences of a deal drenched in blood.
Here the weather is still warm, but it is a perfect book to curl up underneath a blanket with, or even better yet, next to a roaring fire.

What it is about: 

Claudine and her architect husband Henry are hosting a holiday party in the first house they ever build and sold together. Their agency is successful, but Claudine wants to take it to the next level. When Zara, the pop star du jour, expresses interest in the property, Claudine pulls out all stops, to host the perfect party — not forgetting to include Zara in the White Elephant gift exchange that they traditionally host every year.
Henry doesn't want to be there. He cants forget what happened so many years ago at this particular property. And when one of the guests brings a horrible gift, the past comes crashing back in their lives.