Michael Allin, Author . St. Martin's $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-26663-9

A fast-talking, free-spirited college student turns his trip home for the holidays into an over-the-top adventure in Allin's whimsical debut, which begins with Santa Barbara student Casey Rickert facing an early exit from college due to bad grades and lack of focus. Rickert makes a halfhearted attempt to get his act together, but the hole gets deeper when he loses his plane ticket back to Kansas City and he can't bear the humiliation of calling his family for a replacement. Broke and depressed, Rickert almost gets himself nailed for shoplifting at a local store, but he makes his escape by donning a Santa Claus suit from a nearby mannequin and decides to try to hitchhike home in the getup. His first ride almost results in a jail term when he gets a lift from a college couple who are being tracked by the cops, and a libidinous pickup by a sexy older woman named Sharon nearly gets him killed by a jealous ex-husband. The third lift is an equally problematic stretch with a drunken tow-truck driver, but that trip gets him hooked up with an ambitious PR man named George Talarian, who takes him to Las Vegas and turns him into holiday news as "The Hitchhiking Santa Claus." Allin manages to make the silly story line work despite an ill-advised stab at a serious subplot involving Casey's deceased brother, Dave, and the ludicrous happy ending, which pushes the bounds of credibility. But given the healthy dose of Christmas spirit the author provides, readers who find themselves done in by holiday stress could get a nice lift from this fluffy fairy tale. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-7018-1
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-70323-3
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