Monkey Business:

Crime Fiction Inspired by the Films of the Marx Brothers

edited by Josh Pachter

While working on Only the Good Die Young: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Billy Joel, I found myself at one point emailing back and forth with contributor Jeff Cohen about the Marx Brothers, who I love and he pretty much worships. Jeff suggested that I ought to do an anthology of short crime stories inspired by the Marxes' films, and the proverbial light bulb went on over my head.

For this one, I decided to include fourteen stories, one for each of the brothers' thirteen released films plus one inspired by Humor Risk, their 1921 never-released and long-lost silent film. I approached a bunch of people who I know can write funny -- Barb Goffman, Marilyn Todd, Donna Andrews, Rob Lopresti -- and various others, some of whom have written for my projects before (Brendan DuBois, Joe Goodrich) and some who haven't (Lesley Diehl, Joe Walker, Frankie Bailey).

As usual, I wrote the title story myself, and it's got a twist early on that I'm especially happy with. (Side Note: by my count, this was my one-hundredth published short story. Some, though, were published only in Dutch, and one only in Afrikaans, so I've got a ways to go before I hit my hundredth in English....)

Untreed Reads published it in paperback and e-book formats, and it was released on September 19, 2021 -- exactly ninety years to the day after the film Monkey Business had its premiere screening in Chicago.

I wrote about the book for Lorie Ham's Kings River Life, and several of the contributors wrote about their individual stories at Art Taylor's "First Two Pages" blog, beginning with Bob Randisi.

In mid-November of 2021, a reviewer writing in Mystery Scene said that Monkey Business "might just be the best collection ... I've come across this year." Wow, that's high praise! A few months later, Monkey Business garnered 88% of the votes cast in a Long and Short Reviews poll to win the title of "Book of the Month" for April 2022.

You can order Monkey Business (along with the others I've done for Untreed Reads) at a generous discount at this link.

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