The Fat Man Review
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Unabridged Digital Audiobook: 5 hours, 29 minutes
Read by Johnny Heller

Every holiday season, we see the same holiday specials and hear the same holiday songs. The lights, the decorations, and the stories are festive yet all too familiar. But author Ken Harmon offers some holiday entertainment that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before with his tale of North Pole noir, The Fat Man.

The story sets out on an adventure through Kringle Town with Gumdrop Coal, former head of Santa’s Coal Patrol. Once upon a time, it was the ornery elf’s job to deliver coal to the kids on Santa’s Naughty List. But when he suddenly finds himself without a job, he decides to take matters into his own hands. And when his investigation leads him to what seems to be a conspiracy to take down Santa himself, he sets out to save the Fat Man—and everything that he stands for.

The Fat Man is a wonderfully clever (and delightfully gimmicky) mystery—a pulp fiction adventure set in a less than festive Christmas setting. The tone that Harmon sets is perfectly hard-boiled—and narrator Johnny Heller does an excellent job of placing listeners in the middle of a classic detective tale.

Gumdrop Coal makes a likable gumshoe—a tiny, cranky sleuth who, deep down, just wants what’s best for humanity. He may be Santa’s dark elf, but he truly believes that a little bit of coal in a kid’s stocking could set him on the right path. And he may get sidetracked from time to time, but his tiny elfin heart is in the right place.

The story, meanwhile, is a hodge-podge of every possible aspect of the Christmas holiday—Christmas folklore, traditional songs, popular films, and even the holiday’s religious roots. In Gumdrop Coal’s holiday world, Tiny Tim lives in the same town as the 12 drummers drumming and the eight maids a-milking (whose story is truly horrifying). Ralphie from A Christmas Story is a perpetual child with a BB gun—one who dreams of one day being allowed to grow up. George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life is a quirky comic book superhero. And even blanket-toting, thumb-sucking Linus gets to shed a little bit of light on the true meaning of Christmas.

Admittedly, with so much tradition, religion, and pop culture coming together in one unique adventure, it does tend to get a little bit muddled. There’s so much going on here—and the Christmas gimmick often overshadows the actual story. But it’s so much clever Christmas fun that you won’t really care.

If you’re tired of the same old Christmas music this holiday season, pick up a copy of The Fat Man. Whether you listen while wrapping presents or during your trip over the river and through the woods, you’ll enjoy this eccentric twist on the same old holiday entertainment.

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