Harmon’s debut is a combination of heartwarming holiday story and tough guy noir, an interesting mix that creates an enjoyable story. For over 1300 years Gumdrop Coal has served as an elite and highly dedicated elf for The Fat Man (aka Santa Claus) and is the well known creator of the Naught List; the list of children who will be getting coal in their stockings. After Gumdrop loses his job in what he comes to realizes is a frame-up he goes on a noir style revenge mission that encompasses all the neighborhoods of the North Pole, from the Misfits Island to the depths of dark Potterville. Littered with references to popular culture from both the noir and holiday traditions, with characters like Rosebud the journalist, Citizen Candy Cane and the not very bright misfit Sherlock Stetson. Harmon’s novel is a clever tale, but the ending swings too far into heartwarming land, making it much more of a holiday than a noir story and limiting its appeal to a larger audience. --Jessica Moyer
"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean...and who wears jingle bells on his curly-toed shoes and stands about two-foot three. A man who is, in other words, an elf. But don't let the green tights and stocking cap fool you: Gumdrop Coal is the roughest, toughest punisher of the naughty since Mike Hammer, even if he does smell like peppermint and fresh-baked cookies."
-New York Times bestselling author Steve Hockensmith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls) "Noir and Christmas go together like Santa and his reindeer in this stylish elf fable by Ken Harmon, a newcomer who knows noir like he apprenticed with Hammett. An excellent stocking stuffer for the mystery lover in your family."
-New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart "This is one of those wonderful books where I hit my forehead and cry, "Why didn't I think of that?". As I read I kept hoping it wasn't as brilliant as I feared - but it is. It's the "Naughty List" for you, if you don't buy this book for Christmas!"
-Louise Penny, New York Times bestselling author of A Brutal Telling