Fired from his longtime job as captain of the Coal Patrol, two-foot-three inch 1,300-year-old elf Gumdrop Coal is angry. He's one of Santa's original elves, inspired by the fat man's vision to bring joy to children on that one special day each year. But somewhere along the way things went sour for Gumdrop. Maybe it was delivering one too many lumps of coal for the Naughty List. Maybe it's the conspiracy against Christmas that he's starting to sense down every chimney. Either way, North Pole disillusionment is nothing new: Some elves brood with a bottle of nog, trying to forget their own wish list. Some get better. Some get bitter. Gumdrop Coal wants revenge. Justice is the only thing he knows, and so he decides to give a serious wakeup call to parents who can't keep their vile offspring from landing on the Naughty List. But when one parent winds up dead, his eye shot out with a Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model BB gun, Gumdrop Coal must learn who framed him and why. Along the way he'll escape the life-sucking plants of the Mistletoe Forrest, battle the infamous Tannenbomb Giant, and survive a close encounter with twelve very angry drummers and their violent friends. The horrible truth lurking behind the gingerbread doors of Kringle Town could spell the end of Christmas-and of the fat man himself. Holly Jolly! -- Dutton
I think I've mentioned a time or two that I love Christmas books! I will read almost any book that is Christmas-themed even if it's a little outside of my comfort zone. Case in point: THE FAT MAN: A TALE OF NORTH POLE NOIR by Ken Harmon. I can honestly say that I've never read a Christmas book quite like this one. THE FAT MAN is an extremely original Christmas story about a tough-nosed elf. This book has lots of humor and a murder mystery, and it's presented in a surprisingly unique fashion -- noir. Needless to say, I was highly entertained.
THE FAT MAN really does have a little something for every reader. The characters are terrific, the story has suspense and action and romance, and there is even a mystery. I quickly became caught up in this story about Gumdrop Coal, one of Santa's original elves who was responsible for the Naughty List. When Gumdrop is fired, he becomes slightly bitter and decides to take matters into his own hands. After he is set up for the murder of a parent with a "naughty" child, he realizes that he has to solve the mystery to save his own skin. He begins to investigate and discovers a plot that goes way deeper than he ever imagined.
I couldn't help but love the character of Gumdrop Coal and I found myself cheering him on as he tried to figure out the conspiracy against Santa and Christmas. Gumdrop is truly an unforgettable character and one that made me laugh quite often! However, I also really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story with all of the twists and turns. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there were also some feel-good messages about the holiday season that manged to touch my heart.
THE FAT MAN is Ken Harmon's debut novel and I was very impressed with just how fun this book was to read. It's evident within the first few pages that Mr. Harmon is a fan/student of noir and I was so impressed with how he incorporated noir into a story about the North Pole. (Who'd have thunk that someone would write a noir tale about elves?) Over and over again, I was pleasantly surprised by the cleverness of this story and the characters. And I loved how Mr. Harmon managed to include so many classic holiday stories and characters into THE FAT MAN. For example, there are references to Ralphie and The Christmas Story as well as Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
If you are a fan of noir or Christmas books, then I definitely recommend THE FAT MAN. It's one of those books that will appeal to both men and women -- all too often Christmas books are kind of girly. It truly is an original holiday story that is guaranteed to make you laugh!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.
Giveaway alert: I have an extra copy of THE FAT MAN to share with one lucky Booking Mama reader.To enter, just fill out the form below before December 7th at 11:59 p.m. ET. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!