Is the title of the next story to get a chapter illustration! Only two votes here for the last poll, but seventeen at the deviantArt site, so maybe I need to concentrate on there more than on here. In any case…
The story is set in the Christmastime of Tricia and her little sleuthing gang’s seventh-grade year. On Black Friday, Trish (who else?) discovers that someone has stolen plastic Santa statues from the big K at the Allen Valley Mall, then cut them to ribbons on the store’s loading dock. What was merely interesting to Trish and the gang becomes more interesting when Santa statues all around Allen County end up vandalized, and even more personal when Snowden Snoop Missy Bonhart has her family’s Santa statue likewise shredded! The Snoops now seriously set out to figure out who the Santa vandal is, and Snoop peril, as always, commences! One night, while Alyson is detained (in more ways than one, of course!) sitting the Hartman kids, Megan goes out alone to stake out a family which owns a copy of the one particular type of Santa statue that is getting vandalized. It is just her bad Snooping luck that instead of discovering the vandal, she is captured by a marauding home invader! Only Alyson’s belated realization that Megan was alone on her stakeout saves her, only to deliver her into the hands of her frazzled mother Nancy. Nancy describes to her apologetic daughters that their adventures reminded her of her own, and Nancy herself gets into the case to help her daughters.
While Nancy investigates the source of the Santa statues, tracing them to a local plastics plant, Tricia, spotting one of the statues in the Snowden Middle School music studio, concocts a plan to trap the villain by luring him to the school with the statue. Nancy meets the company’s IT director Rose Hansen and her second-in-command Ryan Tipton, while Tricia and Krysten get a picture taken for the newspaper of them with the statue. While Rose and Ryan try to trace the statues, Tricia and the Snoops stake out the school on the night of the Christmas concert to trap the vandal. But the vandal turns the tables on the Nancy-reinforced Snoops, capturing them one by one and hauling them out to nearby Cold Water Lake on snowy roads with evil intent for his captives. Meanwhile, Ryan remembers an incident in which a corporate spy tried to escape the plant with secret company information saved on a CD, and realizes what the Snoops are up against. Rose, Missy, and Ryan, discovering the abduction of the other Snoops, race time and snowy roads to stop the vandal before he can harm their friends, leading to a final deadly confrontation on icy Cold Water Lake!
I had created a bit of a short-lived tradition with this tale; a Christmas mystery based on a Sherlock Holmes story. Homes aficionados will, of course, recognize the plot of Stolen Santas as that of the Holmes short story “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons,” which one of the Snoops herself also recognizes in the story’s aftermath. Later Snoop Christmas tales include The Baby Doll Mystery, in which a Feed-Me Baby doll takes the place of a rare precious stone in “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”; The Very First Snoop and the Case of the Part-Time Santa, in which a local grocer from young Nancy Morgan’s Stoneville childhood hometown of Stoneville fills the role of Jabez Wilson from “The Red-Headed League”; and The Snowden Baby Snoops: The Missing-Present Caper!, in which a missing monetary Christmas gift for everyone favorite babysitter Cora Peabody leads the Baby Snoops into an adventure very much like “The Case of the Second Stain.” I still try to motivate myself to do another one—any ideas out there for a new Holmes Christmas-mystery Snoop short story?…
Anyhoo, the entrants for the Stolen Santas chapter-illustration poll are…
1) Chapter 4 “Oops…”; Megan captured and tied to a tree by a home invader
2) Chapter 4 “Oops…”; Alyson remembering being hogtied by the Hartman kids
3) Chapter 8 “Their Own Petard”; Megan tied up in the Dwights’ van
4) Chapter 8 “Their Own Petard”’; Hannah tied up in the van with Megan
5) Chapter 8 “Their Own Petard”; Tricia and Krysten captured by the bad guy
6) Chapter 9 “Dashing Through the Snow”; Bound-and-gagged Tricia and Krysten packed into the van while Trish leaves a message in the snow
7) Chapter 9 “Dashing Through the Snow”; Tricia and Krysten being tied together and lashed to a cinder block on the Cold Water Lake pier
8) Chapter 10 “Beyond the Edge”; Tricia and Krysten drowning in Cold Water Lake
Vote early and often, kids, either here or at my deviantArt page!…