I’m not a person who likes picking up a book in the middle of a series. I enjoy meeting our sleuth in Book One, getting invested in their world, and watching how they evolve over time. That’s why this book review is a twofer. I just finished reading Edited Out by E.J. Copperman, but since this is the second in the series, I am including the first book and reviewing the series as a whole.
True confessions: I’m a fan of E.J. Copperman. I wanted you to know that up front because, while I went into this book with certain expectations, I was also committed to reading the Mysterious Detective Mystery series with an objective eye.
By way of a little background, I fell under the spell of E.J. Copperman (aka, Jeff Cohen) with the first book in the Haunted Guesthouse series, Night of the Living Deed. I love a good ghost story, but if you believe the ‘reality’ ghost hunter shows on television, the spooks are out to kill or drive insane any living person unlucky enough to buy a house. It’s as if being dead gives a spirit the attitude of a serial killer. In contrast, the Haunted Guesthouse books not only have the living and the dead teaming up to solve murders, but they do it with a large dose of humor. I was hooked.
Once I read through that series, I picked up Written Off, the first in the Mysterious Detective Mysteries. Still a little out there as far as normal goes, the plot revolves around mystery writer Rachel Goldman and a man who shows up at a book signing claiming to be Duffy Madison, the consulting investigator at center of her own book series. No, he doesn’t simply share a name with her hero. He says that he is Duffy Madison, sprung forth from her imagination. She created him, he says. His memory is a blank before five years ago, which just happens to be when Rachel wrote the first Duffy Madison book.
Rachel obviously thinks he’s nuts and brushes him off, but he says he needs her help to solve a series of murders (this Duffy is also a consulting investigator for a New Jersey prosecutor’s office). In true cozy fashion, the more this reluctant writer tries to lose Duffy Madison in the flesh, the more she gets sucked into his world until she becomes the target of a crazed serial killer. Then she has no choice but to trust this stranger who acts exactly like her main character in order to get out of this story alive.
The big question running throughout these books is exactly who is this guy? He must have had a past before five years ago but finding out where he was and what he had been doing proves difficult. Edited Out picks up Duffy’s story as pulls Rachel into a case to solve the murder of a man who may or may not have been connected to his past.
Once again, E.J. Copperman has created a world that tickles the imagination while keeping to tied to reality. He places the action in New Jersey, referencing actual places and landmarks, but finding the identity of Duffy Madison (who continues to insist that he is Rachel’s creation) takes the story one step outside of normal. The books are fast paced and funny as Rachel tries to make sense out of something that, well, makes no sense. And just when she thinks she might be getting close to finding Duffy’s true identity, the search takes a left turn.
That’s why I’ll be reading the next installment of the Mysterious Detective Mysteries.