Xmas Elf: Secret Agent

Here’s a different kind of Christmas story. It’s not for the little ones, but is full of fantasy. Aaron Frale’s action-packed twist on secret agents, drug runners, and an evil twin had me hooked right away.

You definitely don’t want to be on the “Naughty and Nice” list. Turns out, Santa has naughty children kidnapped to work in sweatshops making toys for nice children. Simultaneously, he has some of his elves packaging heroin, and distributing it, disguised as Christmas gifts, to drug pushers. It seems Santa has locked his kind and compassionate twin in a basement cell.

How does a child get on the Naughty and Nice list? Jing, the secret agent elf, gets put on shelf duty – picture an elf sitting on a shelf, pretending to be a toy. It is from that position the elves learn and report who is naughty or nice.

Frale puts a new spin on inserting his own commentary on social issues both, current and ancient, into the dialogue and thoughts of his characters: Jing grouses to himself about the commercialization of Christmas, and the way Japanese importers gouge the price of the latest action figures.

Jing also tells us that the North pole was once easily accessed by dogsled but, as the ice began to melt, it became accessible only by boat or plane. Of concern is that Jing thinks the primary purpose of Christmas is to make children happy. He seems to have forgotten the real reason for the season.

Oh, by the way, Jing is gay, and gets a divorce from his spouse, Steven, a ”lower class elf “who once lived in the tenement housing for immigrants and lower-class elves. Even with all the evil behavior, the story is entertaining. You have only to pretend to believe in elves with magical powers.

What Makes This Book Reviewer Grumpy?

The usual things. Happily, I found only one split infinitive!

  • referring to people as that rather than who;
  • verb tense disagreement;
  • singular/plural disagreement;
  • missing commas;
  • using “further” when “farther” is needed;
  • misplacement of “only” within sentences.

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