In a world where fairies prey on the naïve and the desperate, evil dinosaurs rule the unwilling, and Abraham Lincoln and US Grant were female gnomes, This Red Business takes place in a secondary fantasy inspired by the Frontier Pacific Northwest.
The book opens on Pumpkin the Badger in prison reading a letter from her former cult leader and the book’s villain. Pumpkin begins a summoning ritual, and Abdielle, The Grey Lady (a fairy), appears to bargain. Pumpkin sells her soul to Abdielle. Before The Grey Lady will agree to Pumpkin’s terms, she demands that Pumpkin retrieve an item of special significance.
Pumpkin assumes that Abdielle is referring to a magical artifact known as Reality’s Affidavit, which allows the user to make anything they’ve written into reality. Abdielle was actually referring to a weapon that she had gifted a former champion, a mirror-faceted sword in the shape of a dragonfly’s wing. Pumpkin agrees to Abdielle’s terms under her false assumption, and Abdielle disappears, leaving a mirror-faceted pistol in the pocket of Pumpkin’s rags.
Pumpkin is able to meet up again with her adopted aunt, Mary-Go-Lightly, who had given Pumpkin the letter and the instructions for the summoning ritual that Pumpkin used to speak with Abdielle. With the use of Aunt Mary’s new Boots of Blasting they manage to escape from the prison. The two go their separate ways, but not before Aunt Mary warns Pumpkin about some unusual things that have been happening while she was imprisoned.
Pumpkin decides that she needs some liquid courage before she goes to ask her adopted parents for help, so she stops at the Thistleswitch Tavern. While Pumpkin is there, enjoying the finest dram of whisky in Ascham, an old friend stops by for a chat. Red Royal, Pumpkin’s former mentor and abuser, with two compatriots, shows up to make threats against Pumpkin and her family, while also revealing more of his plans to her.
One of Red Royal’s companions is a velociraptor-like creature called a Drake, common inhabitants of the Draconic Republic, to the east, which lends further credence to Red’s threats and plans for Ascham Territory. The Drake, Major Hurtfew B. Cusser, draws attention to a mirror-faceted sword, before he, Red Royal, and their third companion leave.
The next couple of chapters are from a different character’s perspective, and take place roughly 20 years in the past. Readers follow a gnome, Whissen Foss and her animal companion Pumpkin the badger, as they recruit a team of adventurers to help them protect the city from anything supernatural that might try to escape the cemetery that night, Soween. First, Whissen Foss meets with Anton Sophis, an imposing Blest barbarian. She then meets with Oengall, a dwarf wizard. The last party member is a young-looking teenaged half-elf, Neveriel “Never”, who offers to pay Whissen Foss for the ability to join the group.
The narrative picks back up with Pumpkin walking towards the suburb she grew up in, Leaf. As she arrives at her parents’ house, Too-Ha Dan, one of Pumpkin’s adoptive fathers, is sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch waiting for Pumpkin. Before she and Dan can properly wind themselves into their usual shouting match, Pumpkin’s other father, Anton Sophis, interrupts them and ushers them back inside.
Meanwhile, just over the border in the Draconic Republic, the point of view shifts to introduce Monster, formerly known as Oengall and now a lich, as he begins his day. Monster converses with a surprisingly intelligent villager, before raising her dying mother as a zombie to pay off the family’s debt. His day is interrupted by the arrival of the Chief Inspector of Ascham’s Territorial Police Bureau, who has questions for the nearest token lich regarding some concerning death cultist activity. Monster, Hagerstown, and Gretzen, the very intelligent villager, sit and have tea while Hagerstown asks his questions.
Back in Leaf, Pumpkin practices radical honesty, admits her deal with the fairy to her parents, and asks for help, and is surprised to get it. Pumpkin’s old favorite Uncle Croak, arrives ready to heal whatever ails her. Grappling with the realization that her memories have been tampered with by people she ought to trust, Pumpkin sleeps through the day before being summoned by food. Pumpkin shows the reason she broke out of prison in the first place: Red’s letter proclaiming his threat to Ascham, his subservience to the Dragons (based on a false understanding), and a vaguely specific threat. Uncle Croak suggests they visit the library the next day to conduct research. That night, after believing everyone in the house is asleep, Too-Ha Dan sends a letter to Monster, a secret partner in their previous fairy hunting efforts.
The next day, Pumpkin, Sophis, Uncle Croak and Aunt Mary go to the Municipal Library of Ascham, while Too-Ha Dan wanders up the Milespine to pay the family’s respects to Nana Cobbles. Along the way, he is abducted by Red, while Red’s goons unleash his attack on Rosheen Dove. Monster acts quickly to get the villagers to safety in Castle Windfucker. The dwarf makes a hasty decision and kills the local dragon presence during the battle, freeing the town.
Monster receives a letter from Too-Ha Dan, a partner in fairy hunting, that Abdielle has returned. He has to free his sister, Never, from captivity. Monster makes a quick decision and teleports with Hagerstown, Gretzen, and five newly created undead drakes to Drowned Deen. Monster his mission to rescue his sister from the fairy to his companions. After they agree to help, Monster takes the small group to the Municipal Library of Ascham, the site where his bolthole leads.
With the help of imps in a duster and a ghost-haunted pocket watch, Pumpkin deals with one of Red’s goons, Timtam the Flimflam. His gang, the Large Calibers, seek the instructions on using Reality’s Affidavit. Timtam shoots Pumpkin’s Pa in the gut to force Pumpkin’s compliance. Pumpkin and Gretzen work together to rescue Sophis. At the library, Monster recognizes Pumpkin, and something familiar about her pistol. At the library, Monster finds more evidence of Abdielle’s involvement. Later, Monster helps Pumpkin deal with Red.
Timtam and the Large Calibers flee the library. Croak’s holy symbol, Newton (a newt), cajoles Sophis’s angelic ancestor into returning and saving Sophis’s life. Pumpkin finds a clue to where they should go next to try to stop Red Royal’s plan. One of Timtam’s goons had a recruitment poster in his pocket, with directions to Fosshaus, which happens to be Whissen Foss’s old home, and is familiar to the group. Aunt Mary fetches horses, so the family can follow the Large Calibers who escaped. Meanwhile, Too-ha Dan wakes up on a train with Red interrogating him, before he blacks out from more pain.
The narrative flashes back again to Whissen Foss and the Chickenshits, as she calls them, on their way to her house. When they arrive, she sets chores for everyone, while she takes Pumpkin the badger to meet Whissen’s past companions.
The next chapter rejoins Pumpkin and her family as they begin their stake-out of Fosshaus. Pumpkin tries an unsuccessful deception, and things go sideways. Pumpkin goes into a berserker badger frenzy after her Aunt Mary dies outside her mom’s handcrafted cabin, with her Pa rushing in close behind. Pumpkin confronts Timtam in the ruins of Whissen’s bedroom. Timtam was meant to be a distraction, to give Red time to put the final pieces of his plan into action.
Pumpkin calls on the fairy and Monster follows her. Pumpkin promises to give Reality’s Affidavit to Abdielle in exchange for transportation to stop Red in time. Monster makes a deal of his own with Abdielle to free Never, he offers to give up his magic (albeit temporarily) by offering his grimoire to her.
The narrative flashes back again and the Old Chickenshits canoe across Deception Sound, on their way to the Tower of Sasqwatch, a two-week journey. The gang investigates the abandoned naval facility and find that all the graves there have been desecrated. The Chickenshits confront the Hungry Ghost for the first of many times before he escapes.
Pumpkin and her family are able to teleport straight to the ruins of Sasqwatch to confront Red. Inside the cathedral-lighthouse, the old temple reeks of blood as Red’s cultists, her old friends, have mutilated themselves. Pumpkin ascends the lighthouse tower and provokes him into monologuing, and then uses the Affidavit to defeat him. As Red’s plans go awry, Pumpkin shoots out the glass behind him and calls upon Abdielle to deal with the antagonist.
Pumpkin wakes up the morning after the fight with Red to the smell of her Pa making coffee and trail breakfasts. Pumpkin and her Pa hug. Finally, the burly orc with the pink hair reunites with his husband and his daughter, Pumpkin.
The epilogue is another flashback. Whissen Foss drunkenly investigates a pumpkin patch on the Palemouse Prairie and discovers a badger cub, whom she names Pumpkin.