Thursday, November 30, 2023
Resurrection Walk: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel by Michael Connelly splits the time between Bosch and his brother, Mickey Haller. At its core, the novel is about a flawed justice system and trying to get innocent people released. But, the read is far more complicated than that.
Mickey Haller is doing pretty well. He just got Jorge Ochoa out after years of being wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he did not commit and he likes the feeling that kind of victory. He enjoyed that thrill of victory as Ochoa walked out, a sort of “resurrection walk.”
These days Bosch works for him so that he has insurance. Bosch was going to let the cancer do what it did, but changed his mind. Bosch is fighting, and when he isn’t in treatment, he is driving Haller around and reading letters from inmates seeking help to overturn convictions.
It is their own version of the “Innocence Project” and Bosch thinks he may have spotted a case worth looking at in greater detail. Lucinda Sanz was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of her Los Angeles County Deputy Husband. She pleaded nolo to manslaughter as a plea deal. She has no idea who killed her husband in the front yard of their house, or why, but she took the deal because her public defender said to do so. Now she urgently needs to get out and back home to her son.
While Haller is doing various things, Bosch does some poking around and is soon questioning the merits of the case against her. Overturning her plea is going to be damn near impossible, but going to Federal Court might be a step in the right direction. That case and the fight to get Lucinda Sanz out of prison is the primary overarching storyline.
Other cases, Bosch’s cancer fight, and various ongoing matters make up secondary storylines in a complex novel.
While the caner fight is tough reading for those of who have gone through it with a loved one, the overall novel does not spend a ton of time in that storyline. Many things are going on in Resurrection Walk: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel by Michael Connelly. The result is a highly entertaining read that pulls the reader along at a rapid clip. The book is well worth your time.
After the publisher skipped my NetGalley review request, my reading copy came by way of the Libby/OverDrive App and the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
(audio version below)
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 96 Calls for Submissions in December 2023 - No submission fees
George Kelly: WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #152: Masterpieces in Miniature: Stories: The Detectives; Parker Pyne; Harley Quin, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple By Agatha Christie
Guilty Crime Story Magazine: Issue 7, Winter 2023, contains seven short stories and one true crime article. As always, the read here is dark. Those seeking cozy mysteries or lighthearted fare should look elsewhere.
Colin Brightwell’s “Sad Sack” leads things off. It is the holidays and two porch pirates have their own plan to pick up spending money. The first step is hitting some porches and grabbing packages on this cold icy afternoon.
Sammy was a comedian with a bit of a cult following in the clubs he played between Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area. He borrowed a lot of money from a guy in “Not Funny” by Jim Guigli and headed to the east coast. Now the collectors have caught up to him and he is in a world of trouble.
Crank’s girlfriend, Yulia, wants him to change. He tries in “Crank Baxter Ain’t No God-Damned Christian” by Alec Cizak. His attempt to change from his core nature has a lot of consequences.
Two young girls were murdered in Delphi, Indiana, back in 2017. “The Delphi Murders: A True Crime Story” by N. Fraley recounts the details of the case, the hunt for a suspect, and the status of the case at the time this issue was published.
Editor/Publisher Brandon Burrows is next with his short story, “It’s All An Act.” A totally insignificant man named Dan Martin ended everything. He has to pay. As does society which refuses to put a stop to such senseless acts of gun violence. The reader can’t help but wonder why this sort of thing does not happen more often when one reads this tale.
The three men had a plan and it should have worked fine. It would have too in “No Trouble” by Wayne McIntire if one man had not tried to play hero. Or if one of three had not acted as he did.
When you are convicted young and do your prison time, coming back home, and trying to get a job can be very hard. Especially in a small nowhere place like Chesterton. Andy had to come back and is now trying to make it as best as he can. It is very late at the convenience store, the weather is nasty, and it is almost time to close for the day in “Conviction” by Anderson Barres. Then a customer shows up and everything changes.
So, there he was sitting in a bar and halfway to where he wanted to be, stranger sits nearby and ask if he is willing to kill the guy’s wife. Not that our narrator has done that before. But, things are hard, it is 50k, and she will soon be dead anyway. The hook is set in “Two Guys Walk Into A Bar” by Robb T. White.
Another interesting issue, Guilty Crime Story Magazine: Issue 7, Winter 2023, is another in an entertaining series of reads. Dark in tone and filled with characters often compelled to make bad choices and deal with the outcomes, the crime fiction short stories presented here makes no bones about the inner nature of people. Some have power and use it one way. Others have it and use it another. Friends become enemies and the world spins on. If you are looking for light hearted, this is not the read for you.
My reading copy was a purchase of the eBook last December by way of funds in my Amazon Associate account.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2023
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Posthumous Child: Inspector Mislan and The Playground Murder by Rozlan Mohd Noor is the latest in a good series of police procedurals set in and around Kuala Lumper, Malaysia. This sixth book in the series is a slower read than the previous books though the second half of the book picks up considerably.
As always, Detective Sergeant Johan Kamaruddin and Inspector Mislan Latiff work a number of cases over the course of the book. Some are solved fairly quickly. One takes longer and serves as the main case of the book.
Such is the case here where the main case regards the discovery of the body of a woman is found in a park in a wealthy area. In the park there is a large playground setup for both adults and children. In the children’s area, near a slide, there is the body of a woman. She is dressed and curled up in a fetal position and clearly dumped at the park.
It is only later during the postmortem that Detective Sergeant Johan Kamaruddin and Inspector Mislan Latiff learn that the woman was pregnant. That fact was not obvious on scene. Somebody, presumably, the killer, took the baby out of her. Who killed the woman, why, and what happened to the baby drive the case and thus the primary storyline of the book. Those answers are dark as is most of the book.
This is not a light read, not that any in this series are, but the tone of this one is darker than most. Inspector Mislan is also personally going through some things. The pandemic also still has a tight grip on normal life. As the book moves forward, Inspector Mislan is struck again and again how people will do horrible things to each other under the guise of faith or politics. The world is frequently a sick place and Mislan is increasingly more aware of that fact more than most.
A slow moving and very complicated police procedural, Posthumous Child: Inspector Mislan and The Playground Murder by Rozlan Mohd Noor is not my favorite of the series by a long shot. I found stretches of it slow and tedious until significant progress is eventually made on the primary case. Of course, that could easily be the mindset of this reader and not remotely the fault of the author. This time of year is hard for me and I am well aware that my mood definitely bleeds over into my reading.
While one could start here, I would recommend starting with the first book, 21 Immortals: Inspector Mislan and the Yee Sang Murders, and working forward. Each book has the core characters evolving and going through various things that provide nuance and depth to Inspector Mislan and others. There is a reason why the good Inspector is the way he is these days. To pick up on everything in the latest read, one really needs to have read the previous books.
My reading copy was in digital format and a purchase from Amazon as the Dallas Library system does not have this one and staff refused to pick it up when I requested it months ago.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
Monday, November 27, 2023
Joyce Woollcott was born in Belfast in Northern Ireland and now lives in Canada. Her debut, the first police procedural with Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride and his partner Detective Sergeant Billy Lamont of the Belfast police, won the RWA Daphne du Maurier Award, was short-listed in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in 2021, and was a Silver Falchion Award finalist at Killer Nashville 2023.
Her second book with DS McBride and DS Lamont is Blood Relations (Level Best Books, 2023). It is set just before COVID, when things changed on so many levels.
The gory murder of retired Chief Inspector Patrick Mullan in his isolated country house has Homicide scrambling for fast answers. The new Homicide manager is convinced the culprit will be found among the many miscreants Mullan sent to prison. The intensity of the killing makes McBride think the murder was personal and wants to look at Mullan’s family and close friends but he follows orders and begins checking with informants. He learns John Bell was released from prison the previous week and that Bell claimed Mullan interfered with his sentencing. In a similar vein McBride also hears suggestions and hints that Mullan was friendlier with the local crime bosses than was seemly for someone in his position.
A complicated investigation with multiple avenues to explore, a victim with a murky past, and intriguing subplots. The supporting characters are great, especially Gracie, Bell’s ex-wife, and Doris, Bell’s mother, who remain fast friends despite Gracie’s separation from Bell. Steady pacing of events and disclosure of clues prevented mid-story slump and kept me engaged.
I pointed out in a review about a month ago and I will say it again here that I am really tired of the competent cop fighting inept upper management trope that is so common now. Not that useless managers don’t exist, I have had more than my fair share of them. But portraying upper management as blithering idiots is not realistic. It’s more accurate to show them as consumed with the administrative demands of their positions: the higher up the chain any employee in any organization moves, the more attuned they have to be to financial and political dynamics. I always thought Steven Havill handled the uninformed manager in the early Bill Gastner books exceptionally well. It’s an approach more writers of police procedurals should consider.
Besides that aspect and I understand other readers may not find the theme as objectionable as I do, I really liked this book; I was especially delighted with the thread involving Gracie and Doris. Recommended!
· Publisher: Level Best Books (August 1, 2023)
· Language: English
· Paperback: 286 pages
· ISBN-10: 1685123996
· ISBN-13: 978-1685123994
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, November 26, 2023
With tomorrow being “Cyber Monday” as the kids call it, I thought I should remind you that I am still an Amazon Associate. Every time you click through one of my links and buy something, I get a few cents added to my account as a referral fee. It does nothing on your end to raise your price. I just get a few cents and those pennies that cost you nothing start adding up for me on this end. I use the small fund to buy some medical stuff I need and the occasional book.
So, if you are inclined, when shopping at Amazon, please go through my links for whatever you are ultimately buying. Doing so helps me out and is always very much appreciated.
As always, if you wish to make a donation directly to me that will mainly be used to pay for my more frequent doctor visits, treatments, and meds, please use the donation widget on the left side of the blog here.
Anything and everything helps.
Saturday, November 25, 2023
Friday, November 24, 2023
Thursday, November 23, 2023
With today being Thanksgiving, Scott and I are taking a bit of a break the next couple of days. This means no FFB Review tomorrow, repeat or otherwise, and no new review by Scott Saturday.
I will be linking to interesting things like I always do and I will be taking care of whatever I need to do for SMFS. But, otherwise, I plan to watch football and work on some things around here such as some reviews I need to do.
This time of year is always very tough. This year has been really hard, so trying this seems like the best option.
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Better Man, Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 4 Distinctive Writing Conferences and Workshops in December 2023
Sweet Freedom: SSW: "The Dead Women" by by Marguerite Young, AMERICAN PREFACES, a 1943 issue, edited by Louise Garrigus/Jean Garrigue; "The Day They Got Boston" by Herbert Gold, METRONOME, January 1961, edited by Bill Coss: Short Story Wednesday
From the massive archive….
Morale is always down and the complaining is always up no matter where you work. In this case you work in an office on the 3rd floor. You know things are not better anywhere else because the green pastures elsewhere you hear about through the rumor mill don’t exist.
Besides, if you were somewhere else you would not have a note on the fridge about a fellow employee taking Marvin’s Stromboli. The fact somebody took it is not good. That does not help morale. As a middle manager, you know you have no authority to do much of anything. Your job is to keep the morale of your team up and things like this are not good. You also know that when the boss tells you to make some discreet inquiries about the missing sandwich you have to do it. This is not the first food related item to go missing though this is the first you have heard of it. When she wants to you identify the serial food taker by the close of business you know this Monday is worse than normal.
Featuring some adult language and plenty of humor this short story written in the second person works very well. Filled with characters that work in every environment, Morale Was Down is quirky and a good read.
Material supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014, 2023
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Monday, November 20, 2023
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs by Willie Nelson
John Gilstrap’s series of thrillers about an ex-military officer who runs a security services company and who performs high-risk hostage and kidnap rescues as an unadvertised capability has become my go-to for absorbing but predictable reading. Predictable because the main characters have become familiar. There’s Jonathan Grave, owner and brains of the outfit, who loves the outcomes of his work but doesn’t always like the paths to achieving them or the collateral damage. His friend Brian Van de Meulebroeke, known as Boxer, supplies the brawn and expert knowledge of explosives. I can always count on at least one spectacular scene involving C-4, Semtex, or their relatives, resulting in mass destruction of something. The third member of their team is Venice, whose computer skills include hacking, esoteric research, and satellite networks. At least once in every book I’ve read, she saves Jonathan and Boxer from certain death through her deployment of advanced technology. Secondary characters are Grave’s friend Father Dominic, who serves as an external conscience for Grave, and Irene Rivers, FBI director whose association with Grave extends well into the past. She and Grave feel free to call on each other for help and to use their influence to keep the other out of trouble.
Gilstrap takes this well-rounded set of characters and plops them into one original scenario after another, always managing to save the victims while delivering justice to the bad guys. Think of a modern version of the 1950s television Westerns and it might look a lot like these books.
In Hostage Zero (Pinnacle, 2010) Grave and Boxer are pulled into the rescue of two teenage boys who have been inexplicably kidnapped from their boarding school in Virginia. Grave is happy to bring them home but first he has to find them, which turns out to be far more difficult than expected. Add killers for hire, organized crime, corrupt politicians, cocaine production in Colombia, and a homeless veteran who wanders into the middle of it all, and the result is a complicated story with multiple threads that unwind at breakneck speed.
Gilstrap always incorporates a political backstory into the plot. He lived in northern Virginia near Washington for years and keeps his thumb on the pulse of the action there. He is also deeply knowledgeable about firearms; entire paragraphs are devoted to the firepower that Grave and Boxer carry with them on any venture.
I especially enjoy the way Gilstrap works actual local landmarks into the story. In this volume he references the Torpedo Factory, a building once devoted to World War II munitions production but now is an art gallery and studio. The detail about Vienna, Virginia, a small town in Fairfax County that Gilstrap clearly knows well, is great. He’s used the Vienna library as a meeting place for a couple of spies, referencing the tiny parking lot, which in real life is the bane of residents. In this outing Grave meets River at the “Maple Inn”, a pseudonym for the genuine Vienna Inn on Maple Avenue in Vienna, known as a local hangout and for its killer chili dogs.
I read these books as I find them, reading them out of publication order doesn’t affect understanding the story at all. Highly recommended for fans of intelligent thrillers and political crime fiction.
Starred review from Publishers Weekly.
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, November 19, 2023
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Scarlet Witch: Vol. 1: The Last Door by Steve Orlando is a new series where the Scarlet Witch has moved to a new town. She has opened up a shop to help people with their problems by way of magical items she sells such as potion, elixirs, and more. There is also some sort of teleportation door affixed to her shop that allows people from all over the world with nowhere else to go to arrive at her shop so that she can help them in addition to her local walk-in customers.
Each issue in this collected volume introduces a new supporting character with a new problem or a new guest star. The final issue is mostly a setup for the Contest of Champions Event. As those of us who have read other series already know, and Wanda does not, her former mentor, Agatha, has gone evil. So, the fact that Agatha is visiting in the last issue of the volume is not just because, supposedly, Agatha is worried about her former protégé.
The guest stars are drawn from Wanda’s complicated family tree are featured for an issue here and there and are moved on with nothing more said about them. Wanda faces villains that are powerful in their own right, but would not seem to be much of a challenge for her if she was not holding back. She is, in different ways, for the reasons that come clear during the read and does casually performing massive spells.
There is humor, action, and drama in interesting storylines accompanied by pretty art. This series is continued with Volume 2: The Magnum Opus.
Sometime after that book is released, the series is scheduled to be relaunched as Quicksliver and The Scarlet Witch. This is planned to be a buddy cop style series dealing with Magneto’s death. Before he died, Magneto sent a letter to Wanda that was supposed to read by his children, Wanda and Pietro (Quicksilver), after his death. But, Wanda burned it before Pietro was able to read it. Pietro is peeved about this and there are consequences. This upcoming series is undercut in some ways by Marvel and their marketing choices since we already know sometime next year Magneto will be resurrected. It’s hard to mourn a character when Marvel has already announced his return.
My reading copy came by way of the Hoopla App and the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2023
Friday, November 17, 2023
Happiness Is A Book: FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE CASE OF THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS BY ANTHONY BOUCHER
This is my 2009 review of the first book in a great three book series. From the massive archive here at Casa Tipple and Home Eatery Library….
The plan was to leave Starvation Lake, Michigan and never come back. But 1998 finds Augustus Carpenter, known to all as “Gus” back home after his successful newspaper career exploded on him in Detroit. Both he and the town are still haunted by the goal he let in close to the end of the state championship game and both have never been the same.
Now at thirty-four, Gus is backing home, once again working for the local paper, Pilot. He lives in a small apartment above the storefront news room and across the street from the local bar where his teammates frequently congregate. The same issues that faced them as boys are now part of the power struggles and conflict they have as men.
Simmering disagreements are fueled by the fire of the past when parts of a damaged snowmobile wash up on the shore at the lake. While the snowmobile seems to be the same one Coach Blackburn was driving years ago before both disappeared through a hole in the ice, it can’t possibly have made it here since that accident happened miles away. No body was ever recovered, but the assumption was that Blackburn was dead. While he probably is dead, the fact that the recovered snowmobile shows evidence of foul play ignites a local firestorm that finally explodes in a tale of deceit, treachery, and unspeakable pain.
A debut novel that packs a punch, Starvation Lake, by Bryan Gruley develops slowly through a variety of emotionally scarred and complex characters. Billed with the totally unnecessary subtitle, A Mystery, the book operates on several levels with multiple mysteries and complex multiple storylines featuring heavily flawed characters. To delve into any of this at any level would seriously impact reader enjoyment by giving away far too much information.
Suffice it to say, if you are looking for a thriller or a simplistic mystery full of lightweight characters and violent action, this is not the novel for you. However, if you are looking for a meaty novel where the characters are very human and occasionally vile, where there is plenty of back story and long descriptive scenes leading to powerful dialogue and emotional impact for the characters and readers, along with multiple mysteries, this is the book for you.
Material provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2009, 2023
Thursday, November 16, 2023
This has been a very tough day...... six years ago today Sandi came home her final time just after six in the evening. It was the beginning of hospice ... and the beginning of the end. I did not want her here as I was very afraid of what was coming and not being able to care for her as she needed and deserved. That turned out to be the reality as after about a week they lost pain control and she suffered horribly before lapsing into unconsciousness those last few days. It was hell for her and for us too.
Sandi, on the other hand, did not want to die in the hospital. She desperately wanted to be at home here with us. I agreed as that was what she wanted and there was no way I could tell her no. In a sense she is still here as her urn sits here in the den.
I wish for so much that can't be......and I miss her so much. Every day is hard....some are worse than others....and then there are days like today. I turn 62 Monday and she is not here to tell me not to be grumpy about another birthday and to have fun.
Then we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and her birthday in January. What should be a great time of year is instead a hard, painful slog. Six years later, nothing has changed. At least she is not here to watch me slowly get sicker as what little I inherited vanishes like sand through the hourglass.
Last week, Aubrey Nye Hamilton reviewed Face of Greed: A Detective Emily Hunter Mystery by James L’Etoile. If you have read her review, you know she liked it a lot. After setting up her review, I went looking for it at my local library with no luck. I went looking at NetGalley where I remembered recently seeing it offered. Oceanview Publishing still had it listed and so I requested it. Thankfully, it was instantaneously available with no gatekeeper delay and I was soon hooked.
Detective Emily Hunter and Detective Javier Medina are working in Sacramento, California. In recent years she has been assigned to the Detective Bureau of the Sacramento Police Department. She is on call one evening when Lieutenant Ford, Watch Commander, calls her with an assignment. One is dead, one is injured, at what according to the initial report, is some sort of home invasion gone very wrong.
If that was not enough, both the Mayor and Chief of Police are already on scene. That means politics, powerful people, and probably pressure to get results quickly and quietly from on high. It is a cold evening this night in April and the neighborhood is clearly upscale where a murder just does not happen. But, it did this night, and Rodger Townsend is very much dead.
The deceased was fairly wealthy and had donated a considerable sum of money to Mayor Stone’s last campaign. Not only that, but Ridger Townsend was also the campaign manager. Those facts at least partially explain why the Mayor is involved. The Mayor makes it clear from the start he expects how the investigation is to be done and that includes leaving the widow, Lori Richardson, alone.
Something Detective Hunter is not willing to do as she follows the evidence and believes that Lori is involved all the way up to her beautiful face and then some. That puts her and her partner on a repeated collision course with the Mayor and her own internal police chain of command. She enjoys poking the bear with people of power and intends to do it regardless of how much it could cost her professionally or how it reflects on her partner.
At the same time, she is dealing with a serious issue at home as her elderly mother has dementia. Connie Hunter is 74 and slowly getting worse. How Emily Hunt will help her mother and whether she can or not she can is a major secondary storyline in the book.
An entertaining read, Face of Greed: A Detective Emily Hunter Mystery by James L’Etoile is a good police procedural. As Aubrey pointed out in hew review, it relies significantly on the trope of a smart good cop beset by incompetent supervisors. A hallmark of police procedurals and one that is long familiar to readers.
Despite that issue, the overall read is fast moving and highly entertaining. According to the note in the beginning of the digital ARC, there is a second one coming in the pipeline. I very much look forward to the read.
As noted in the review, my reading copy came from the publisher, OceanView Publishing, by way of a NetGalley ARC.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
George Kelly: WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #150: WORLD WITHIN A SONG: MUSIC THAT CHANGED MY LIFE AND LIFE THAT CHANGED MY MUSIC By Jeff Tweedy
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.
My review copy came from the publisher, MistiMedia, with no expectation of a review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023