While looking for a Christmas book for our reading group this December, that was not saccharine or sweet, I came across this. I had not read anything by Christopher Moore before and so I was not sure what to expect; but this is certainly not saccharine - just very, very funny. Many of the characters seem to have appeared in previous books, but that did not matter in this stand-alone story, as the author cleverly introduces the characters of Pine Cove; a sleepy Califormanian coastal village. Well, sleepy until Christmas anyway.
The story begins with evil developer Dale Pearson (dressed as Santa) having an altercation in the parking lot of Thrifty-Mart with his ex-wife Lena Marquez. Later, when he discovers her digging up Christmas trees on his land the argument continues and Lena accidentally kills him. This is witnessed by two people - one, handsome pilot Tucker Case, who helps her bury the body (as you would, obviously, come to the aid of a damsel in distress - even a murderous one) and the other is a young boy, Joshua Barker, who is deeply disturbed at the murder of Santa. Does this mean Christmas is cancelled? At the same time, Pine Cove is visited by the Archangel Raziel, who is on Earth to grant a child a Christmas wish.
Before long, the story is mired in a plotline of sex, drugs and murder. Theo Crowe, the local constable, is supposed to be tracking down what happened to Dale. His attempts are hampered by his wife, Molly, who has retreated into her B-Movie Warrior Princess mode, a fruitbat called Roberto, a crazy Archangel on the loose and, oh yes, the dead are rising from their graves... This is a surprisingly funny, rather charming read, but do be aware that there are lots of adult themes. If you are in any way offended by the outrageous or the indecent, you may wish to avoid this. If not, then you will find a Christmas book which is very different to most around at this time of year; full of quirky characters and lots of laughs.