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What If: Santa really existed and was banned first by the US and then by Eastern bloc countries in the Cold War of the 1950s and the North Pole started a slow decline culminating in the murder of their Premier (think cross between a Prime Minister and a Dictator)?
This is the basic premise to this well-written and slightly hard-boiled detective murder mystery with genre-crossing elements of fairy tale (flying reindeer & magic of Santa’s 'knowing' who is naughty and nice), fantasy (North Pole, rebelling elves, toy factories) and cold war politics history tweaked and re-told. Slow build up at the start and I almost stopped reading after the first 5-6 chapters as I wasn’t sure I could enjoy the story or the premise. I am glad I persisted! The characters and nuances of the story began to grab my attention and held it to the end. The story's twists and turns were interesting and compelling and the ending satisfying. A good read which I recommend.