Monday, December 15, 2014

Who Framed Santa Claus? - Shantnu Tiwari

    2013; 324 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Satire; Humor.  Overall Rating : 7½*/10.

    Santa sure picked the wrong chimney to slide down this time.  There’s a dead man in the room, and six heavily-armed SWAT-team policemen pounce on Santa as soon as he hits the floor of the fireplace.

    Well, it serves Santa right.  Not only is he guilty of breaking into people’s homes, but he’s also destroying the economy by giving away free presents.  It’s easy to believe that someone who’s a burglar and a Commie could be a murderer as well.

    But not everyone is convinced of Santa’s guilt.  In particular, Sherlina Holmes, the dead man’s precocious niece, thinks he’s been framed.  And she sets out to discover who the real murderers are..

    But be careful, Sherlina.  Citizens have no privacy anymore.  The police are watching your every step.  And there are people in high places who will stop at nothing to prevent you from getting to the bottom of this matter.

What’s To Like...
    On the surface, Who Framed Santa Claus? is a fine tale of Absurdism.  There are a slew of crazy organizations to meet, including the British Geek Association, a redneck Al Qaeda sleeper cell, and a cadre of evil-&-secretive bankers.  There are individual weirdoes as well – a chicken farmer with a doom machine, an incarcerated robot-builder (think Hannibal Lecter), a Superheroine, and a couple of flying, kilt-wearing Scotsmen.  And let’s not forget Dr. Toxy Underpants, who dreams of becoming a supervillain.

    All of the abovementioned loonies have their own separate agendas, and for a while it is quite the challenge to keep track of who’s who, how any of it could possibly tie into Sherlina’s investigation, and where this is all going.  But the threads do eventually meet up with one another.

    This is an adult story.  There is some cussing, bloodshed and violence, a dildo, and a hint of underage sex.  Just because it has Santa in it doesn’t mean little Suzy should be reading it.

    At a deeper level, Who Framed Santa Claus? offers some searing commentary on some pretty serious subjects.  Topics like song piracy, bankers, lawsuits, enemy combatants, the 1%, road construction, Homeland Security, and last-but-not-least, potatoes.

    Shantnu Tiwari does a nice job of combining the serious with the absurd.  The wit will not be to everyone’s taste, but I found it quite funny.  The titular question is eventually resolved, and the baddies get their just desserts.  This book is written in English (as opposed to ‘American’), and is a standalone novel.

    “Why, God?  Why dost thou do this to me?  What have I done to deserve this?  All  I wanted to do was to take over the world with my potato-powered doom machine.  Was this too much to ask, Lord?  Is it a sin to have dreams?”  (loc. 243)

    “You see, with mathematics, we can predict when and where the next war will happen.  Our MBA programme produces the best leaders, who can then use this information to defeat the enemy before they have even started the war.  We have successfully invaded many countries that our computer models told us were planning to start a war.”
    “Wow.  So you defeat your enemies before they have even thought about attacking you?  You are so smart, Dr. Jones.”  (loc. 2268)

Kindle Details...
    Who Framed Santa Claus? sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  Shantnu Tiwari has several other full-length novels available for $2.99, as well as a couple short sotries for $0.99.

Relying on luck, fortune, or the favour of the gods (is) a sure way to get killed.  (loc. 1865)
    The writing is good, but the storytelling could use some polishing.  Adding superheroes to the mix felt awkward; so did the underplayed monster.  The acronym for the Posh Al Qaeda Institute seemed needlessly pejorative.  I’m still not sure that all of the crazies had their threads resolved at the end.

    What saves this book is the scathing social commentary.  In a way, it reminded me of V For Vendetta, one of my favorite movies.  Both works use the Absurd to deliver a far more serious message.  And the fact that both are rather successful in this endeavor trumps most of my nitpicking.

    7½ Stars.  Subtract 2 stars if you’re a banker, and/or part of the 1%.  You probably won’t find this book amusing.  At all.

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