As noted on the back of this very enjoyable book recently released by Wolfmont Publishing, “Tis the season to watch out for thieves, cutthroats, liars, rogues and con artists!” That it is as the holidays are nearly on us and it is also the season to help others. Not that help should not go out year around, but this is the time of year when more media attention is focused and it could be argued that needs are the highest. With all profits from this book going to support the “Toys for Tots” program the twenty authors and publisher should be very proud of what they have created.
In alphabetical order the authors are, Nick Andreychuk, Guy Belleranti, Tony Burton, Carol A. Cole, Herschel Cozine, Margaret Fenton, Suzanne Flaig, John M. Floyd, John L. French, Gary R. Hoffman, Joseph Ketner, Jean Lauzier, Jeffrey Marks, Debra Gray De Noux, O’Neil De Noux, Neil Plakcy, Rob Rosen, Mike Wiecek, John J. Wilson and Frank Zafiro. The result of their entertaining efforts, compiled and edited by Tony Burton and released through his publishing company, Wolfmont Publishing, take the reader on an emotional ride from hysterically funny to incredibly moving and all stops in between. While not all stories can be covered due to the obvious number and space limitations, there simply isn’t a bad one in the bunch.
Starting off the anthology on a humorous note is the short piece penned by Herschel Cozine titled, “The Plight Before Christmas.” Little can be said without ruining the funny read and it is good to know that Ellery Queen is on the case.
Also funny is the short story written by Rob Rosen tiled “Murder In Toddler Town.” The hill is steep, the grass is wet, and clearly the victim fell on his way from fetching a pail of water. Detective Dock isn’t convinced it was all an accident and knows this isn’t the first time such a thing has happened.
John L. French also uses humor well in his story tiled “Surprise Package.” When an elf is dead, the crime scene is at the North Pole or thereabouts, of course Santa would come in a red Jeep looking for P. I. Matthew Grace. After all, he has a body, a crime may have been committed and there are lots of suspects and Santa doesn’t know nearly as much as we were always led to believe.
At the other end of the emotion scale is the incredibly powerful tale titled “Popcorn for Christmas” written by Debra Gray De Noux and O’Neil De Noux. Set in a morgue on Christmas Eve, it is a tale of what could have been. If this one does not get you in the heart, you simply aren’t human.
Somewhere in the vast middle between those two extremes are tales such as the one written by John M. Floyd titled “Christmas Gifts.” Dennis Bates has it all and is used to being in power as well as whom to help for his own reasons.
Carol A. Cole’s story “The Bells of Christmas” also revolves around helping others in a way. Criminals are stopping cars and helping themselves to the victim’s cell phones and Christmas packages before escaping by use of a City Cab.
While those detectives are dealing with a mortal problem, the paranormal makes another appearance in this anthology through Gray R. Hoffman’s tale, “In the Chimney With Love.” A few presents are missing from the Wallen’s tree but there really is a logical explanation and heartfelt explanation.
Those familiar with Frank Zafiro’s novel “Under A Raging Moon” (also available from Wolfmont) as well as his numerous interconnected short stories also set in “River City” won’t be disappointed in his story titled, “Three Days of Christmas.” The thief stealing Christmas presents is going to be stopped in the officers involved have their way.
Also putting a hard stop to crime is the theme behind the story “Secret Santa” by Jean Lauzier. Sometimes the best gifts are those that we do not know where they come from and never know who to thank.
The above gives you a small sampling of this excellent anthology as well as glimpse into some personal favorites. Your choices may and most likely will vary. However, you certainly won’t be disappointed in this book as each and every story in it is a good one whether a new tale or a favorite reprint. The result is an excellent anthology dedicated to a worthy cause and a book well worth owning.
BY THE CHIMNEY WITH CARE: A HOLIDAY CRIME ANTHOLOGY
Edited By Tony Burton
Large Trade Paperback
Kevin R. Tipple © 2006
Fireside Magazine - Advance Notice
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