Just in time for Christmas

By By Jesse Peterson

By Jesse Peterson

Jason TwedeSanta Claus is DeadBrushfire PressTwo out of four stars

I know what most people are thinking: A title like Santa Claus is Dead is bound to be some sort of boring book about the current state of affairs about Christmas and how people have forsaken the idea of Santa Claus and blah, blah, blah.

For all I know, a book like that exists, but this isn’t it. Jason Twede’s new book, Santa Claus Is Dead, is a mystery/detective novel about (gasp) the murder of Santa Claus.

Who’d want to kill him?

Well, that’s the catch. I guess. The story revolves around a young girl brought up to the North Pole to see Santa Claus after losing faith in his ability to do anything worthwhile for people. While there, however, she gets arrested and is the main suspect in the case of Santa’s grisly death. Two detectives find suspicious–even alarming–facts and set off on a course to bring the real criminal to justice.

Now, if that wasn’t enough, one of the detectives is a penguin (and we all know penguins aren’t indigenous to the North Pole) and the other’s last name is Iceberg.

Twede positions the reader in a magical world cohabited by humans, animals, snowmen and elves. This has three affects: 1) The absurdity and naturally fictitious characters and situations are constantly brought to the foreground; 2) it creates a world all its own and brings out subtle comparisons to the world in which we live; and 3) it juxtaposes serious adult issues like murder, abduction, divorce and intrigue with childish fantasy. The outcome at times can be quite funny–come on, a penguin “gritt(ing) his bill” (pg. 12) and slapping people around with his wing-fins? That’s funny.

However, this also causes some problems for Santa Claus is Dead because the novel is a quick, easy read. The simplicity and the seriousness of the issues involved, although made preposterous, have got to place the book in a genre somewhere along the lines of junior fiction because it’s just not in-depth enough for a serious, compelling read.

Of course, for all I know, that’s not Twede’s intention; and so, the bottom line for Santa Claus is Dead is that it is a great seasonal book and would be an enjoyable no-brainer for anyone’s Christmas break.

Twede went to Weber State and currently lives “out West” (whatever that means).