As you know, lately I’ve been on a murder mystery kick in my reading. In my search for the best whodunnit mysteries out there, I’ve recently come across quite a few page-turners I’ve been anxious to share with you. Today’s reviews feature Jeff Cohen, a favorite of mine and a new-to-me author who I already feel like I can say will become a favorite after reading my first book from her.
So, without further ado, let’s get with the reviews:
It Happened One Knife (A Comedy Tonight Mystery) by Jeffrey Cohen
Elliot Freed owns an old-time movie theater and shows a classic comedy followed by a contemporary one every night. When he gets a chance to meet his comedy idols, the team of Harry Lillis and Les Townes, now in their eighties, he jumps at it and maybe he shouldn’t. The two men are still harboring grudges from a half-century ago, and include Elliot in their intrigues. Then one of them murders the other, and Elliot has to wonder if he helped cause the death of one of his heroes.
The second Comedy Tonight mystery blends laughs and intrigue, but with heart. Bestselling author Lee Child said the series is “Funny? Of course, but also wise, suspenseful, and a genuine pleasure to read.”
Once again, Jeffrey Cohen’s wonderful mysteries surrounding the Comedy Tonight Theater and crew did not fail to entertain. From start to finish, the story had me chuckling, while my brain worked in overtime to try to figure out what was going on. Like the first book, this one had two separate mysteries as well…one major and one minor. The minor mystery had me puzzled all the way to the reveal. I have to admit, I was embarrassed I didn’t see it coming…but it totally made sense.
The major mystery was a different story. I did catch on to what was going on pretty quick, but I was thrilled to discover I was right at the star-studded culprit reveal. Look, let’s face it. Writing mysteries is hard. You’ve got to come up with clever twists while sprinkling in clues and red herrings here and there. You can’t make the clues too obvious, but you also have to be sure the essentials are there. It’s a tricky thing. So I don’t fault Mr. Cohen at all for me figuring it out earlier. Like I said, I was just as thrilled to discover I had been right all along.
And let’s face it, Elliot Freed and gang are just plain fun to hang out with. Jeffrey Cohen has created a wonderful, laugh-filled world in which we can spend some time each day. Light-hearted and breezy escapism at its purist. I’m becoming a huge fan of both the author and this series. Now onto book three!
[NOTE: My current read is the first book in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series by Jeff’s pen name, E.J. Copperman…and it’s just as good so far. I’ll be sure to leave a review of it soon.]
Death of a Dead Man (A Juniper Grove Mystery) by Karin Kaufman
The product description:
In the small town of Juniper Grove, newcomer Rachel Stowe has finally found the good friends and quiet life she always craved. So when a stranger arrives in town and stirs painful memories of a baffling episode in the town’s past, Rachel vows to put an end to his mischief.
But events take a nasty turn when Rachel discovers a body in her own backyard and suspicion for the murder falls on her widowed neighbor. Despite being warned off the case by the town’s handsome but aloof police chief, Rachel makes it her mission to clear her neighbor’s name and find the real killer. Can she crack the case before another body turns up?
I truly loved this book. Karin Kaufman definitely knows how to spin a great mystery.
First of all, the technical stuff: the writing itself was fantastic. It flowed really well with vivid and picturesque language. The characters were fun and engaging. You truly cared for each of them (or truly disliked them depending on who they were). I’ve seen another reviewer mention what I’m about to say right now: it’s probably the best edited (both copy and content edited) indie published book I’ve ever seen. I don’t believe I saw a single typo in the whole book.
As for the mystery itself…it was twisty and turns enough to keep you guessing until the end. You had several great suspects and each of them could very well have been the culprit right up until the very end. But, as is my litmus test of such books, all the clues are there necessary to solve the case yourself if you’re observant enough. But Kaufman did something else with this book that I’ve rarely, if ever seen in a mystery. The lead character solved the crimes not by just gathering the clues and letting the answer solve itself. No, Rachel (the lead character) used plain old common sense. She was a student of human nature and instead of searching crime scenes for forensic evidence, she spent her time questioning. “Why?” “Why would they do this?” Why would someone do that?” And in the end, that good ol’ common sense paid off.
Another thing about this book I loved: It’s clean. Actually, from my experience, most cozy mysteries tend to be pretty clean. Very little language. Very little sexuality. Very little violence even (despite the prerequisite murders). Karin Kaufman’s books, however, are cleaner still. She’s a devoted Christian and while there is nothing overtly Christian or preachy in the book itself, she does a great job of letting Christ’s love shine through in her writing.
Great book. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series as well!
Right now, you can get every book in the series for $0.99 each. Click HERE.
Also, be on the lookout! I’ll be interviewing Ms. Kaufman very soon and I know you’re going to want to hear what she has to say!