It’s Christmas! Santa, elves, snow, presents…and grand theft!
Griffin “the Man with the Plan” Bing and his intrepid group of friends are looking forward to holiday break until one of their number signs them up to act as elves in the 66th annual Santa’s Workshop Holiday Spectacular, Cedarville’s traditional holiday fete, held at the Colchester mansion. Reluctantly, they train alongside a skeevy biker playing Santa, their abusive classmate Darren Vader, and Mr. Colchester’s grandson, Russell. Then, on opening night, the multimillion-dollar art treasure the Star of Prague is stolen from the top of Colchester’s tree. Suspects abound, but the whole town (and especially Detective Vizzini) blames Griffin and his pals because of their past run-ins with the law. Clearly it’s time for a plan to find the real culprit. Can they do it without deepening everyone’s suspicions? Probably not. Korman’s eighth title in the Swindle series is as much fun as previous outings. There’s little new here (Logan, the wannabe actor in Griffin’s group, who signs everyone up without consent to boost his chances of getting in the North Shore Players, is a bit more annoying than before), but fans will enjoy this, and those new to the series won’t be lost. The cast is not notably diverse.
Good fun. (Mystery. 8-12)