If Santa Claus existed, the feds would probably mistake the operation for a drug cartel. So goes the premise of St. Nic, Inc. (Southern Yellow Pine), S.R. Staley's comic thriller about a Drug Enforcement Administration operation that nearly takes Christmas down.
Staley, a frequent contributor to Reason, teaches economics at Florida State when he isn't writing novels. He draws on both careers when describing NP Enterprises, an Arctic software firm and toy distribution network run by one Nicole Klaas. Nicole, the fourth Klaas to run the family business, relies heavily on the skills of the world's little people, for whom the company's polar community is a haven against the discrimination they face down south.
Their cash transactions catch the government's eye, and soon a federal agent is convinced he's found a nest of narco-traffickers. He hasn't spotted any actual drugs, but the pattern looks unmistakable. And then a bona fide War on Christmas begins.