It's Christmastime in Pine Cove, CA, and Lena Marquez is ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. When her tightwad ex-husband, Dale (a dead ringer for Santa Claus), won't contribute, she gets even by digging up some of his beloved pines and donating them to families who can't afford Christmas trees. Dale catches Lena in the act, and in the ensuing argument, he gets his head bashed in.
Seven-year-old Joshua Barker is worried he'll get crossed off Santa's list for coming home late, but his problems get a lot worse after he sees Lena kill "Santa" with a shovel. When the somewhat inept angel Raziel—whom Moore readers will recognize from his very funny Lamb—is sent to Earth to find a child whose wish needs granting, he finds Josh, who wants "Santa" back, and of course Raziel totally botches his sacred mission.

Billed as "a heartwarming tale of Christmas terror," this comedy of errors is a unique and hysterical take on that most frenetic of celebrations. While the holidays won't include murder, angels and giant fruit bats for most of us, we can still identify with the panic and mayhem they cause. Occasionally irreverent and unexpectedly heartwarming, this short novel is a great de-stressing tool for those of us overwhelmed by the holiday rush. (Oct., 288 pp., $14.95)
Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum