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White Elephant

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,475 ratings  ·  329 reviews
A crackling Christmas mystery that combines murder and blackmail at a holiday office party, in a mashup reminiscent of Big Little Lies and Clue.

There are only a few rules in a White Elephant gift exchange: 1) Everyone brings a wrapped, unmarked gift. 2) Numbers are drawn to decide who picks first. 3) Gifts don’t need to be pricey—and often they’re downright tacky.

But thin
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by Simon Schuster
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Stephanie Yep, it's almost like watching a trailer for a movie that results in you not needing to watch the film. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Not how I would market it, but ...…moreYep, it's almost like watching a trailer for a movie that results in you not needing to watch the film. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Not how I would market it, but ...(less)

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Average rating 3.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,475 ratings  ·  329 reviews

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fulfilling book riot's 2020 read harder challenge task #3: Read a mystery where the victim(s) is not a woman

i knew i was in trouble with this one from the very first page:

Claudine couldn't see them outside the salon's picture window, her head stuck under a hooded dryer. With a freshly French-manicured hand, she reached into her cream-colored Chanel flap bag and pulled out the guest list: not counting herself, Henry, and their six employees. There hadn't been much time to put the list together. Z
Julie (JuJu)
An unusual mystery with vile characters that you love to hate! If you attend a White Elephant gift exchange, your expectations will never be the same.

This isn’t a deep and thought-provoking book. But if you want to satisfy a guilty pleasure by reading about vicious and vile characters—try this one! Although somewhat predictable, it hooked me from the start. I had to know what these wealthy, back-stabbing characters were going to do next!

The Christmas party and White Elephant game sounded like a
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The opportunity to showcase the exquisite Montague House to a potential showbiz celebrity is too good to be true for husband and wife team Henry and Claudine, in fact they decided to move the annual Christmas party to the location to help make the property more appealing.

Part of the annual tradition includes a secret Santa presentation, but one of the gifts has a darker backstory that holds a sinister secret.

The book really racks up the tension once the reader is introduced to the characters and
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
The book equivalent of an overly dramatic Lifetime movie.

But it sure is fun.

White Elephant is an incredibly short, kitschy, over-the-top story about aspirational greed, and it truly is a hoot...full of characters you love to hate. The premise is intriguing, but there isn't much mystery here. And the conclusion, while satisfying, wraps a little too quickly for my liking.

Overall, an entertaining holiday read.

**Thanks to the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for my candid review.
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a super fun book! The Christmas element in it was the “White Elephant”gift exchange at the annual office party. Otherwise it was a whodunnit mystery. Perfect light entertainment for this time of the year.
By the way the blurb says it’s like Big Little Lies and Gone Girl. Don’t go in expecting that or you will be disappointed.

If you’ve ever participated in a white elephant gift exchange, you will get a kick out of this book.
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fully 4.5 stars. Ok, here's a real outlier for me. I almost gave this modern mystery/ thriller/ who the heck is pulling off this party crux book- and from a totally unknown author yet- 5 stars. It could easily be that. It's excellent. And the author is just plain wise. What attracted me was the big red bow on the cover- it fit well for Christmas parties' preps week.

It's not only a Christmas placed "white elephant" crazy gift party depicted between 16 people at all. It's also HUGE in psychologic
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Most of my Christmas reads are romance and chic lit books and I was really excited when I found thriller.
Claudine and Henry decide to organized white elephant party at Montague house. They planning not only to make an extraordinary party but also sell a house during the process. But not everything goes as they want to when someone decided to crash the party with some shocking secrets about Montague house’s past.
The murder part of the story was very intriguing and it was such a fun to try to figu
Rachel Gilbey
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

Wow I did not see that coming!! I could tell the whole book was building to something, but really wasn't sure how it would all come together and i didn't guess the actual outcome at all.

I will freely admit this was an impulse request from Netgalley, I love Christmas books, and always curious about a clearly more sinister darker side of a festive story, so couldn't really resist it. And it is definitely one of the smarted impulse decisions I have made.

I've never know an office Secret S
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I enjoyed reading every word, every sentence , every page, and every chapter so much so that I didn’t want The Secret Santa, to end.

The Secret Santa is Trish Harnertiaux debut novel, I’m pleased to say Trish Harnetiaux has now become one of my favourite authors and I will now be on the careful watch eye for more thrillers by her.

The setting of this story is rather like playing clue do at Christmas. My favourite characters were Claudine Calhoun and her husband Henr
Gail C.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mystery and Suspense Lovers
Four and a half stars, rounded up to five.
A combination of psychological suspense and murder mystery, WHITE ELEPHANT by Trish Harnetiaux is a fast moving novel that keeps you wanting to read at least one more chapter every time you start to put it down. The story is told rotating among the points of view of three principals; Claudine, Zara, and Henry. A fourth point of view punctuates some of the story, although the reader doesn’t know until the end of the book who this person is. Each chapter
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
"It's strange how certain people who are clearly no good for you can have such a powerful hold."

I meant to post this one before Christmas, but oh well. White Elephant was a good Christmas thriller, and I had so much fun reading it. I was hooked from the beginning, and entertained the entire time. It had some good funny moments, and while it was a little predictable, I really enjoyed the drama of this story. Pick this one up for next Christmas!
Skyler Autumn
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
2 Stars
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
A prestigious real estate firm in Aspen, Colorado, throws a white elephant gift exchange with a few colleagues; friends (more like frienemies?); and pop star whom they wish to sell the lavish home the exchange is taking place in to. But Claudine and Henry Calhoun of Calhoun + Calhoun have a secret: they murdered the property owner and his hired help years ago to acquire this house. Things take a turn when the murder weapon shows up as one of the white elephant gifts. Who brought the gift, and ju ...more
Paula  Phillips
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Claudine and her husband Henry are celebrating their annual Christmas Party and Claudine is making sure that this year's one goes down with a bang as she changes the venue to Montague House - this was the first house that Henry and Claudine built and sold. This was the house that launched their careers. It is also a house though that holds some sad and terrible memories and the house that started to pull them apart as a couple. Celebrity Pop Singer Zara is wanting to move to Aspen as she was obs ...more
There was a lot in this book's set up that I really liked-- the office party element at Christmas with secrets being revealed, a "Clue" like isolated closed circle mystery, strangers coming together for a whodunnit, etc. I think 3 main things kept this book from fully working: 1) the authorial voice was just a little off IMO, 2) the constant flashbacks really undercut the overall atmosphere and tone, and 3) it took far too long to get to the main events of the current day plot. Still, if you're ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I was extremely excited to read this book as Christmas thrillers are few and far between. The synopsis of the book promises a party with a sinister white elephant gift that sets off a dramatic chain of events. Unfortunately, the party and white elephant exchange don't occur until the second half of the book. The first half was a lot of setup and character development, which I found a bit boring. The party scene felt like it was rushed and that the synopsis had been a bit misleading.

I would defi
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow!! Loved the premise of the story.
A party on isolated mansion and two hosts who would do anything to protect their secrets. But it all unraveled when a gift unwrapped in the secret Santa gift exchange. And the entire party soon turned to revenge.

My first book by this author, I was quite in a good rapture when the revenge plot sunk in. The author did a brilliant job in keeping the atmosphere spooky and suspenseful, especially on the backdrop of Christmas.

The characters were not very likable an
Leoni Dempsey
2.5 stars rounded up to 3 stars for me overall ⭐️⭐️⭐️ this was a short seasonal read with an interesting concept. However, I hated all of the characters (they were very two dimensional in my opinion and needed to be fleshed out more) and the storyline didn’t quite live up to the blurb for me. I also found the conclusion to the story to be anti-climatic and quite forgettable. That being said, it kept me reading to find out what happened in the end but is not one I would sadly read again.
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for white elephant exchanges. I haven't participated in a single one that hasn't proven to produce laughter and a little drama. This one was no exception, even if I wasn't part of it. I do have to say that the first third of the book was a bit slow and Claudine is a despicable character. However, it picked up and made for a god mystery. I could really see this becoming a movie. ...more
Joanna Park
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Secret Santa is an atmospheric, intriguing read which is perfect for anyone wanting an unusual Christmas read.

The story is told from the point of view of Claudia and Henry, a husband and wife team who run an upmarket estate agents, Zara who is a rather spoiled celebrity and a mysterious person who the reader is lead to believe is involved with what was going to happen. I liked how the author had managed to give each of them their own voice so it was easy to follow each of their stories indiv
Ellie Clayton
This book was so much fun! Romantic Christmas novels seem to be a dime a dozen, but unfortunately I am not a big fan of the genre. One of my Bookstagram friends @booksbikesbooze posted about this Christmas-themed mystery last month (otherwise I probably wouldn't have heard of it- it's not getting the hype it deserves on the 'gram!), so I decided to give it a shot. After reading The Giver of Stars, which I loved but is slower-paced with all the historical details, this was the perfect book to rea ...more
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As soon as I saw this book in the shop, I just had to buy it. Just look at that cover! The premise was incredibly interesting and I've been really looking forward to reading it.
I read this book in one sitting. I was hooked from the second I started the first page.
It was quite fast-paced and everything was explained perfectly coming to a rather exciting finish. It didn't quite go the way I had expected and I'm glad because it meant the penny didn't drop for me until I was reading it in black an
So never heard of this author before but the book cover, title and blurb really appealed to me which is what made me give this book a go.

I have to say that the story was a little slow going and a bit confusing to begin with, but once you get passed the 40% it gets really good and things start to make sense and pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

The story was a really good one, quite unique too. Pretty well written, sets the scenes and location really well.

There is something of a twi
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis sounded interesting but the story didn't grab me. Too dull and boring, didn't care for any of the characters. ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was pretty boring. The summary makes it seem like a murder mystery where people are getting kicked off one by one, which is why I wanted to read it in the first place. There is no thrill in this book until the last two chapters, which was a huge letdown. I kept telling myself that it was going to get better, but now I know that was just wishful thinking. It NEVER GOT BETTER!! The ending was hugely disappointing but the characters were what earned this book three stars. They were all we ...more
A nice light read for christmas.

A secret Santa gift turns up that threatens some well hidden secrets and lies are exposed.

I liked the plot but it didn't feel very believable and I think purely this has something to do with the book being 300 pages. It felt it lacked depth of characters and of the setting. It felt a little rushed, like it was trying to build suspense but failed.

Considering it is meant to be thriller/mystery, I don't feel I was led on a 'whodunit' kind of scenario or did it give
Jo Ring
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story easy reading enjoyed this Festive book 9/10
Dion Santiago
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Nice quick read/audiobook! I’m dream casting the movie/mini series at the moment! I have a love hate relationship with the White Elephant game but I definitely enjoyed the drama of this one!
Amber Baker
Dec 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I love our buddy reads. I love the variety! There are books some of us wouldn’t usually read, books that have been on our TBR for ages, books that have had so much hype around them and we just want to get stuck into them too because you know we all get serious FOMO! Then we read and there’s some books we absolutely love and some that are utter shite.

I’m sorry for the brutality here but this one was one of them. Maybe that’s karma for us all being a little sadistic and saying ‘let’s all read
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This had such a strong premise and had really good potential but it turned out to be a really below average thriller.

My first problem with this book was the fact that it is based around a secret Santa game yet that doesn't really get going till around 160 pages in.

Secondly, the characters were incredibly annoying. I hate reading about rich people doing rich people things. These characters were just beyond frustrating.

The writing wasn't very good, it jumps around in time a lot and it is hard to k
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Trish Harnetiaux is a Brooklyn-based writer. Her play Tin Cat Shoes premiered in 2018 kicking off Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks (Playwrights Horizons Superlab). Currently she is developing Bender and Brian, an epic tale of subversive Breakfast Club fan fiction (Exponential Festival, Prelude Festival, forthcoming JACK) and We Are Not Well (Clifford Odets Commission).

Harnetiaux was an Executive Produ

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