Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Short Story Wednesday Review: The Perp Wore Pumpkin: A Humorous Crime Anthology to Benefit Second Harvest Food Bank


Edited by J. Alan Hartman, the recently released Misti Media anthology, The Perp Wore Pumpkin: A Humorous Crime Anthology to Benefit Second Harvest Food Bank, is a highly entertaining read. This is especially true if you like puns and slap stick humor. The book also includes four Thanksgiving related recipes offered by Jay’s sister, Lisa Lynn.

After a short introduction by Jay explaining why he did a charity anthology and how it will help give back in many locations, it is on to the stories.

“The Thanksgiving Parade” by Sandra Murphy begins where two people are working undercover in a holiday parade. Both are very much undercover as one is costumed as a baked potato with fixings and the other as jellied cranberry sauce. They are not the only ones dressed as food items. They also may not be the only ones Arlo in a certain bank, the First Federal Bank of Orlo.

The Finley Family Thanksgivings are a notorious deal going back many years. It is happening again in “The Vic Wore Yams” by Heidi Hunter. The kitchen fire had caused a delay in meal prep. Then the narrator’s dad lacerated the heck out of a finger as he tried to carve the turkey. The dog got the meat the blood hit. But, the death at the table, and the resulting family commotion really brought things to a halt.

Janet saw the stumbling man from her third-floor window as “A Regular Harvest Moon Blowout” by Daniel Sohn begins. It is only as he gets closer to her apartment building in Columbia, Missouri, she realizes he is bleeding. She goes to help and he has been stabbed. Stanley Tiller appreciates the help. He also just wants to get back to his hotel room where he is supposed to be hosting the annual holiday dinner. She agrees to give him a ride and things get even more interesting.

“A Diverse Thanksgiving” by Debra H. Goldstein comes next where Warden Oscar P. Weiner is just trying to make it through his final two weeks to retirement without any problems. That includes never having to deal with inmate Joshua Randall ever again. While on paper he is an absolute model prisoner, Randall is always stealing from his office as he negotiates on behalf of his fellow inmates. This year, the annual thanksgiving dinner is not enough as he wants more than the usual fare. The latest round of negotiations is soon underway with Warden Weiner doing his best to control the damage and the outcome.

The rich tradition of hobos riding the rails is the background of “Hobo Hannah and the Great Pumpkin Heist” by Lesley A. Diehl. Hanna, her friend, Lily, and their Maine coon cat, T-rex, gave up the hobo life to go to home to where Hannah came from all those years ago. They did. Soon after, Hannah was elected sheriff and replaced the high school bully and sheriff, Hiram Noggins. The guy is still a bully and did not take losing well. He has made threats to expose her for being incompetent. Now pumpkins are vanishing from fields right before harvest and pumpkin products are being stolen from stores. The loss of everything pumpkin related could ruin Thanksgiving for everyone miles around.

The first two stories that specifically reference Texas author Earl Staggs come next with and begin with Barry’s Ergang’s groaner filled tale, “Buffet, the Umpire Slayer.” Normally, Hardy Boyle stays home on Thanksgiving eating tacos, drinking beer, and watching football. But, he was recently involved in the hunt for and rescue of the daughters of the managing partners of the talent agency, Binthair-Dunthat. Second rate actor, Macdonald Adamia, took them in misguided attempt to get acting jobs. Hardy Boyle solved the case and got the daughters rescued and back home. Now, one of the partners, Lucas Binthair, is having a holiday meal and celebration at a closed public restaurant and Hardy Boyle is in attendance. Good thing as when death strikes, Boyle’s friend, Detective Lieutenant Paul Ohnius handles the case at the Belladonna. An entertaining mystery that is packed full of groaners which is why Earl frequently referred to the author as the “Guru of Groaners.”

Bennet is less than thrilled to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He isn’t surprised his new son-in-law has screwed up and there is no turkey in “The Last Turkey in Tulsa” by Jim Fusilli. His daughter, Cammy, is quite upset. With her being married to a man that never even asked for her hand in marriage, Bennet thinks her new husband, Owen, should deal with it. Bennet’s wife, Charlene, thinks Daddy (Bennet) should help. So, like many a smarty married man before him, after some grumbling, Bennett sets out trying to help by trying to find a turkey for the holiday dinner. Far easier said than done at this late hour.

Dinner at Ann Marie’s is clearly going to be problematic and not just because the sister-in-law is not at all hygienic in “The Chile Pumpkin Pie Rebellion” by Linda Kay Hardie. Though that is now going to help our narrator deal with her verbally abusive husband, Jamie. How she goes about it, and all that she has to deal with to make things happen, is the crux of this short story that also references the late Texas author, Earl Staggs.

Every year Aunt Sadie makes pumpkin whoopie pies. The things are horrible because she substitutes ingredients at random giving them a horrible taste. In “Making Woopie” by Shari Held, it is that time of year again. The newest member of the family, Trevor, is about to experience the annual nightmare Hopefully this year great-great Aunt Sadie has not decided to substitute pickle chunks for pecans again or use salt instead of sugar. Something is coming and once again everybody assembled will just have to deal with it.

The final story is “Pie à la Poison: A Vermont Radio Mystery” by Nikki Knight and one with a far more serious tone and subtle humor. Jaye Jordan is divorced, a single mom, and back home in Vermont at the radio station, WSV. She first started out there just after college, and when everything went so wrong in NYC, she came back home and bought the station. With her daughter with her dad and his family on this Thanksgiving night, she is alone in the station and handling everything including the request line. The same phone line where an elderly woman has confessed to setting up a double murder. The question is whether Jaye Jordan can get authorities involved in enough time to stop it in this very good mystery tale.

One final recipe and the often extensively detailed bios of the authors brings this entertaining holiday anthology to a close. If you read the previous holiday anthologies edited by Jay Hartman and you liked them, you will definitely like this one. Many of the same authors are involved as are the usual elements of puns and slapstick humor. As always, the recipes are a nice touch for those cooking at home.

The Perp Wore Pumpkin: A Humorous Crime Anthology to Benefit Second Harvest Food Bank is a fun and entertaining quick read. It features plenty of humor, action, and mystery, and thus leaves the reader well fed at the end.

Pick it up at Amazon, at other vendors, or at the publisher where the price is a little lower. Also check out Jay's short video regarding the book here on the Misti Media YouTube page


My review copy came from the publisher, MistiMedia, with no expectation of a review.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2023


Maryannwrites said...

Sounds like a fun read and so nice that sales will benefit a charity.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

It was.

Yes, that is a nice aspect of this one. We have used that food bank here before and it won't be too long before we are back having to do that again the way things are going. At least this time, Sandi is not here to also have to deal with things.

Thank you for reading my review as well as commenting.

Lori Robbins said...

I'm a huge fan of many of these writers and it sounds like a fun read!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I am too and I enjoyed it. Hope you do too!