The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Sixth Scandalous Serving by J. Alan Hartman (editor)

The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Sixth Scandalous Serving by J. Alan Hartman (editor)
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving-themed mystery anthology is back for a sixth outing, celebrating not just the best in murder-most-fowl short stories (not a turkey among them), but also ten years of Untreed Reads Publishing!

In addition to enjoying the holiday magic that is bumping off family members we don’t like, this year’s Killer also honors the dedication to the writing world by the late TKWC contributor Earl Staggs.

Serving up a sixth season of stories are the following dinner guests: Bobbi A. Chukran, Bert Paul, C.C. Guthrie, Catina Williams, Herschel Cozine, J.B. Toner, Joseph S. Walker, Kari Wainwright, Lesley A. Diehl, Steve Liskow, Steve Shrott and Trey Dowell. Lisa Wagner returns with all-new recipes, helping you to fill your stomach and tickle your funny bone at the same time.

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No matter how much you plan ahead, no one can foresee every possible outcome of Thanksgiving dinner.

Stan reluctantly attended turkey day festivities at a house filled with gangsters in “Some More Good Times.” What surprised me the most about this story was how funny it was. The author took every opportunity he could to bring out the humor in his scenes, including the ones about an unexpected death and other topics that would normally be written about in serious terms. It was always done respectfully, but the juxtaposition between the sometimes dark subject matter and the jokes the narrator made about them grabbed my attention and didn’t let go.

The family matriarch of “A Very Darwin Family Thanksgiving” had been ranking her loved ones by how much she loved them for many years before this get-together happened. Naturally, this caused a great deal of competition among her heirs, the details of which I’ll leave up to other readers to discover for themselves. The only thing more interesting than reading about those family dynamics was figuring out the plot twist in this one. It was as unexpected as it was perfect for everything I’d already learned about theses folks.

In “A Ghost, Turkeys, and a Pretty Holiday Sweater,” a thirty-something clubber named Vonda was hounded by the ghost of a murdered college friend to do something completely out of character and technically illegal for the holiday season. That sentence only captured some of the unusual plot twists to be found here! I loved every story in this collection but ending it all on such a mischievous note only made me enjoy the whole thing even more. Vonda was one of the least likely heroes I’ve read about recently, so seeing how she reacted to her dead friend’s orders was almost as much fun as finding out what happened next.

This anthology is part of a series that can be read in any order.

I’d heartily recommend The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Sixth Scandalous Serving to anyone who has strong feelings about Thanksgiving regardless of what sort of feelings those are. There’s something for everyone here, from folks who adore this holiday to the ones who can’t wait for it to be finished!

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