The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos by Edited by J. Alan Hartman

The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos by Edited by J. Alan Hartman
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Holiday, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (137 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Just when you thought it was safe to head to the table for Thanksgiving feasting, the Killer Wore Cranberry series is back with a fifth course of pure chaos!

The Killer Wore Cranberry has been acclaimed worldwide for its wicked combination of humor and Thanksgiving-themed mysteries, and this year’s installment is sure to carry on everyone’s new, favorite holiday tradition.

This year’s contributions come from 14 of today’s best and brightest short mystery authors that could be seated at one dinner table: Barbara Metzger, Arthur Carey, Earl Staggs, KM Rockwood, Herschel Cozine, Kelley Lortz, Bobbi A. Chukran, Lesley A. Diehl, Albert Tucher, Maryann Miller, Liz Milliron, Terrance V. Mc Arthur, Betsy Bitner and DG Critchley. And, back by popular demand, Lisa Wagner provides delicious recipes, proving that murder and mystery work best on a full stomach.

So have a seat, pick up your fork and knife (on second thought, maybe not the knife) and get ready to have so many laughs it’s criminal!

Sometimes there are far more dangerous things to worry about on Thanksgiving than accidentally choking on a turkey bone.

In “The Capo-Clipped Capon Caper,” Sam Spad was hired by the secret service to find out who stole the White House’s Thanksgiving turkey. The only thing better than discovering the funny and creative premise for this tale was finding out that it exceeded every expectation I had for it. Not only was the mystery incredibly entertaining, the characters were well-developed and the ending made me grin. I never would have guessed that any detective would have to work so hard to figure out who’d want to prevent the president from eating turkey.

I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection, but a couple of them would have been better if they’d focused on a smaller number of characters. “No Starch in the Turkey, Please” was one example of this. It was about a woman named Emily who decided to reconnect with her estranged family for the holidays after receiving a strangely formal letter from her mother about her father’s declining health. She soon began to wonder if something sinister was happening to her family. The premise itself was fantastic, but there were so many characters running around in the plot that I had trouble keeping up with what everyone was doing.

“Turkey Underfoot” was told from the perspective of a cat named Misty. Her humans were hosting Thanksgiving dinner for a grouchy, elderly relative who kept narrowly escaping attempts on his life during the course of the day. Not only was Misty a funny narrator, her understanding of how human society works and why her owners were trying to kill their relative was so different from how a person would interpret those scenes that I couldn’t wait to find out how it would all end. This was such a fun twist on the typical murder mystery that I’d recommend skipping ahead to read it first before diving into the rest of this anthology.

The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos should be read by anyone who is in the mood for some truly creative Thanksgiving mysteries.


  1. Thanks so much for the terrific review of our collection of stories. So glad that you enjoyed the read, and all of us who contributed really appreciate the kind words.

  2. Really thought I might like to read this. Your review made up my mind for sure. Thanks. Can’t wait to read the series.

  3. Thank you so much for the great review!

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