Detective Lauren Bruni can be forgiven for thinking someone is playing a sick joke on her. After all, how often does one get called out to a remote North Pole village to investigate the murder of Kris Kringle? Yeah, that Kringle.
Bruni’s first clue that this isn’t going to be a typical day at the office is the hundred or so “little people” she finds clustered around the victim’s body upon her arrival at the scene. Not one given to belief in fantasy or the supernatural Bruni is skeptical, to say the least, when the little people inform her that they are actually elves and that the deceased is none other than Santa himself.
But when Bruni’s questioning of the witnesses, including a distraught Mrs. Kringle, finds them all telling similar stories she has no choice but to accept that either they are suffering from a mass delusion, or there really is more going on than her mind can readily comprehend.
In fact, when Bruni accidentally discovers a member of her investigative team is actually a flesh eating ghoul masquerading as human, the possibility that the deceased really was Jolly old Saint Nicholas and the little people are elves starts to seem decidedly sane in comparison. And when another prominent member of the community is murdered and she herself comes under attack, Bruni finally understands that something seriously evil is happening at the North Pole.
Author Joel M. Andre has taken a traditional murder investigation, mixed in the legend of Santa Claus, added a dash of horror, and topped it all off with a generous splash of fantasy. The result of this mad concoction is a world where security concerns over trade secrets and prototype designs requires swipe card access to the Top Secret Toys lab (an area which Head Elf Pepper refuses to allow Bruni to enter without a search warrant), and where Satan has hatched a sinister plot designed to destroy Santa and the spirit of Christmas, raise an army of the undead, and usher in Armageddon.
A Death at the North Pole is a delightfully entertaining, seriously demented, dripping with dark humor Christmas tale not unlike something I’d expect from the likes of Jeff Strand or Christopher Moore. If you’re ready for a change of pace from the traditional Santa story, and have a strong stomach (the medical examiner’s postmortem on Santa is quite graphic), give A Death at the North Pole a try.