Hat Trick

Hat Trick by William LeRoy

Book Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Hat Trick is the latest book from the pen of the best-selling author, William LeRoy. It features the down home-style sleuthing of one of LeRoy’s most intriguing main characters, PI Maximo Morgan, in three long short stories. The first tale, “One Shoe Blues,” won the Percy Wilson Society’s prestigious Not the Butler Award, and the other two stories, “Prankenstein Monster” and “Ham for the Holidays,” are also gems of brilliant storytelling, making this collection a captivating and engrossing “hat trick,” indeed. The three tales make this book a Must Read for fans of mysteries, especially those that are laced with a generous helping of humor, cultural references, and the trademark sort of clever wordplay that LeRoy is known for. Like the author’s other novels, Hat Trick is set in Oklahoma, with much of the action taking place in the small backwater town of Henryetta.  Purchase Here.

“One Shoe Blues,” originally published in PWS Periodical II, is my personal favorite of the three Maximo Morgan Mysteries, though I also thoroughly enjoyed reading the other two tales.  It takes its title from the B.B. King song of the same name. Maximo, or “Max,” has a knack for jumping to conclusions and making assumptions, some fairly accurate in a sense, some of which are erroneous. Ah, well — not all of the conclusions reached by other examples of literature’s most famous PIs have been completely accurate, but that’s one of the aspects about Hat Trick and LeRoy’s other books that lend humor to them and make you want to keep turning pages to discover what Max will be up to next. Reading the very cool first story, “One Shoe Blues,” you might even learn a thing or two about shoes and shoe-related expressions. I know that I did.

The other two tales in Hat Trick are also stellar, if you are a fan of clever and humorous mysteries, as I am. The first chapter of “Prankenstein Monster” begins on the Monday after Halloween, on November 1, 2023, and Max is faced with another day at  work at the local Mister Quickie’s copy shop. He is not in the best of moods because the night before, the front door of the house that he shares with his mom got egged. The incident reminds Max of Mike Hammer’s Case of Ghostwritten Graffiti and the quote that Halloween was “a green light for some to engage in perverse passions.”

Max relishes in associating the exploits and lives of literary PIs with his own. The “perverse passions” that lead to three costumed people egging his mother’s (and his) house is what sets off a chain of links that is the plot of “Prankenstein Monster,” a story originally published in the October edition of Private Dickwork Illustrated. This is a great story with many twists and turns to it. Max finds himself trying to solve the mystery of why a “dame” disappears following a Halloween party.  A stranger “smelling of embalming fluid,” who crashes the party adds to the fun of reading “Prankenstein Monster.”

The third tale in Hat Trick is “Ham for the Holidays.” Besides the natural desire that many people have of wanting to be home for the holidays and spending time with friends and family, traditionally also over indulging in all sorts of food, like ham, is another experience that can make holidays special. Max has that “natural desire” in spades. In “Ham for the Holidays,” a story that was “originally commissioned as course material for a 2023 Harvard 4-H Club Symposium on “Homicide and Hunger in Hamlet,” our intrepid flatfoot PI faces some of the issues that Shakespeare’s tragic hero, Hamlet, also faced, like hunger.

In “Ham for the Holidays,” Max can’t help but recalling the hard lesson that another one of his heroes, the literary PI Percy Wilson learned. Sadly, the Latin expression “Cherchez la Femme,” or “Shedunnit,” was often true when it came to the perpetrator of nefarious deeds. Max, like Percy Wilson, is reluctant to consider the possibility that “Sometimes a guy had to walk over burning charcoal and his own mother to wrap-up a case.”

Hearing that his Mom is going to get remarried, Max goes on a “hunger strike.” Mom Morgan enlists the aid of Dr. Stern, to help her “troubled son.” The table is turned when Max, himself, gets accused by guilty the good doctor of “emotional blackmail.”  Everybody’s a suspect in “Ham for the Holidays,” even Max’s own sweet Mom Morgan, and…himself.

Hat Trick by William LeRoy is a treat to read, whether it’s read before, during, or after the upcoming holiday season. The three Maximo Morgan Mysteries included in the book are sure to bring a smile to the faces of everybody who checks out Hat Trick. If you’re someone who loves reading mysteries with plot twists galore that are also laced with a heaping helping of humor, this is definitely the book for you!




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