James Patterson likes rape, torture, mutilation and death. So do his readers. Who doesn’t? It has been estimated that Patterson’s lifetime sales of thrillers have now topped 150 million, and that one in every 15 hardbacks bought in the world in 2007 was a Patterson novel, which means that we must all like rape, torture, mutilation and death, perhaps with extra rape on the side, and then some child rape, child torture, child mutilation and child death, then some more rape, more death and more rape, and finally some rape, death, rape and death.
But it isn’t all rape and death: James Patterson also wrote the book at hand, SantaKid. This is the heartwarming tale of ‘Santa’s little girl’, Chrissie, who lives at the North Pole with Santa and Momma Claus. One day, a businessman called Warrie Ransom arrives, a sort of corporate Grinch, who tries to steal Christmas from under their noses by buying up the whole operation, elves, presents and all. But his trucks get stuck in the snow, and on Christmas Eve it is up to Chrissie to save the day, which she does by getting on the sleigh and flying off to visit the children of the world, teaching them that Christmas is about more than just getting presents — though, in the end, in the sort of concession Melanie Phillips would not approve of, they all get their presents anyway. There is no death whatever in it, and no discernible rape. It would have been enormously improved if the dramatis personae, including Santa and Momma Claus, had been hung up, tortured, raped, drained of blood, burned, mutilated, raped, killed and eaten.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated December 20, 2008Tags: Children's book, Fiction, Surprising literary ventures