"To Kill a Rocking Horse," by James Powell, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, January 2016.
I have said it before. My friend James Powell (who makes his fifth appearance in this column today) has more imagination that any three authors should be permitted to possess. This is particularly obvious in his annual Christmas stories in which ideas go flying across the page like bullets from a machine gun.
Exhibit A is this tale about Canadian private eye Gladstone Tydings (ponder that name for a moment), who gets visited by Santa Claus. The fat man needs help because his elves have gone on strike. They feel that someone is trying to destroy all the rocking horses they created in honor of the now extinct species of ski-footed ponies that helped the elves survive when they first came to the Americas. (Why did the elves wind up at the North Pole? They were the last to cross the Bering Sea land bridge, because they had the shortest legs, of course).
I won't give away much more except to tell you about two groups who appear in the story: militant women who attack phony santas and are known as the Slay Belles, and the North Pole's crack paramilitary unit, the Christmas Seals. And then there is the rule about camp followers with a heart of gold, and -- Somebody stop me!
Read the story. You'll love it.