If you love old comedy movies, wisecracks, or humorous mysteries, check out Jeffrey Cohen's Double Feature mysteries. His latest book, A Night at the Operation, is his best yet.
Elliot Freed owns the only movie theater in New Jersey that only shows comedies. It doesn't attract large crowds, or make a lot of money, but it keeps Elliot happy. Nothing can make him happy, though, when his ex-wife, Dr. Sharon Simon-Freed, goes missing. It's even worse that Sharon's soon-to-be-ex-husband, Dr. Gregory Sandoval, is the one who reports it to Elliot. Normally, Elliot won't worry about anything Gregory says, but Elliot still loves Sharon. And, when he returns home that night to find his house ransacked, he starts to worry that someone might have kidnapped Sharon.
Elliot has a lot of resources. He might seem a little odd, owning a movie theater, not owning a car, and riding a bike to work, but he's made friends over the years. And, he calls on the local police chief, and another police officer who helped him write the book that allowed him to buy the theater. They're a little dubious, until the family of one of Sharon's patients claims he committed suicide, and blames her.
As the search for Sharon turns into something out of a Marx Brothers' comedy, Elliot starts to lose it. Did Sharon's patient commit suicide, or was he murdered? Was Sharon kidnapped? Did she run off with a man, leaving a trail at a hotel and sleazy shops?
And, as Elliot runs around playing detective, his theater is either flooding or going up in flames. His most reliable staff member is under pressure to leave. Elliot Freed's whole life is a mess. And, it's a fun mess for the reader. One scene in Elliot's office is worth the entire cost of the book. By the time you finish A Night at the Operation, you might be just as tired as Elliot. But, it's a glorious tired, due to chuckles and laughter. And, his characters, beginning with Elliot, are just wonderful. Cohen truly has written a tribute to all of those old zany comedies. If you need a pick-me-up, pick up A Night at the Operation.
Jeffrey Cohen's website is www.aarontucker.com
A Night at the Operation by Jeffrey Cohen. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2009. ISBN 9780425228159 (paperback), 304p.