Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It Happened One Knife

It Happened One Knife brings back Jeffrey Cohen's loveable amateur sleuth, Elliot Freed, to share his love of classic comedy films, and bumble his way through two mysteries. However, there's more than two features in this enjoyable "Double Feature Mystery."

When Elliot allows his projectionist to show his first film, a pseudo-Western, at the all-comedy theater, he didn't expect Anthony's movie to be a hit. He also didn't expect the only copy of the film to disappear. Why is Elliot the primary suspect in his own theater?

However, that same night, he discovers that one member of his favorite comedy team, Lillis & Townes, lives nearby. Can you imagine Elliot's delight when Harry Lillis agrees to attend a showing of the classic comedy, "Cracked Ice"? And, when Harry's old partner, Les Townes, shows up in the audience, Elliot's in comedy heaven. And, then, Lillis insinuates that Townes murdered his wife fifty years earlier. Elliot is not the type to forget rumors about his idols. Suddenly, he's investigating a fifty-year-old death, and the disappearance of a film.

Although I found Cohen's earlier mystery, Some Like It Hot-Buttered, to be funnier, I appreciate the humor and suspense in this latest book. In fact, there's a terrific scene with a ticking box delivered to the theater. For me, Cohen's greatest strength is his characters, and I'll continue to read his books for the characters even more than the humor. Elliot's eccentricities would either make a reader laugh, or turn them off. It does the same for his ex-wife and friends. He's a loveable man who doesn't own a car because he doesn't want to hurt the environment, but he'll allow others to drive him, and he'll borrow a car. He only shows comedies at this theater, and thinks as if he were playing a role. Police Chief Dutton is not the typical small-town cop portrayed in humorous mysteries. He's understanding, intelligent, and patient with the local problem, Elliot. The teenagers in this series are great characters, particularly Sophie, who went from Goth teen to radical feminist. Cohen creates characters with heart.

Jeffrey Cohen's It Happened One Knife combines great characters, humor, and suspense, with a little slapstick, in the tradition of the best movie comedies. You can't go wrong with Cohen's "Double Feature Mysteries."

Jeffrey Cohen's website is jeffcohenbooks.com

It Happened One Knife by Jeffrey Cohen. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2008. ISBN 9780425222560 (paperback), 296p.

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