I have a new release, contemporary murder mystery for today’s Murderous Monday, having received The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen for review from the publisher via Netgalley. This is book number two in the Asperger’s Mystery series. I haven’t read book one, but that didn’t cause any particular dramas in terms of getting to know the characters or the situation in this one.
Let’s get cracking. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
For Samuel Hoenig, Asperger’s isn’t so much a syndrome as it is a set of personality traits. And as the sole proprietor of a business called Questions Answered, Samuel’s put his personality traits to good use, successfully answering every question he’s ever been asked.
But when his newest client asks about the true identity of her so-called husband, Samuel recruits his former associate Janet Washburn for insight into a subject that’s beyond his grasp—marriage. Working as a team seems to be the right approach . . . until the inscrutable spouse is found dead in Samuel’s office.
Feeling like he’s been taken for a fool, Samuel is more than willing to answer a new question posed by an unexpected inquirer: who killed the unfamiliar husband?
When a lady comes to Questions Answered requesting that Samuel discover whether the man she is married to is actually her husband, Samuel is happy to take on the case, provided he can gain the support of his friend Janet. After Samuel and Janet are called out to their client’s premises on suspicion of abuse, the corpse of the man they are supposed to be investigating mysteriously appears inside Samuel’s office. Things begin to get a bit convoluted at this point, as Samuel’s original client doesn’t seem to want to be found, and Samuel’s only leads relate to people who don’t seem to exist.
The Usual Suspects:
This is a bit of a tricky one. There’s Samuel’s original client, who seems to not to want to be found, there are some ex-wives of the dead man, and some mysterious colleagues of the dead man.
The Hunt for the Murderer/s:
The hunt is quite drawn out for reasons which I could not fathom. For keen-eyed readers, and I count myself among them, there are glaring clues given out early on in the story that will tip you off to the eventual reveal of the mystery. There are some red herrings offered, but I found that most of the hunt involved Samuel dialoguing with himself about people’s possible motives.
Two poison bottles for the long, drawn-out death rattle of a reader choking on their own impatience.
This was a big miss for me unfortunately. I thought the premise underlying the mystery was creative and interesting and I loved the idea that Samuel wasn’t a “detective” – just someone who endeavoured to answer his clients’ questions. I’ve enjoyed plenty of books with main characters with Asperger’s Syndrome before, but this one just took too many tedious detours into Samuel’s psyche to keep me interested. My biggest problem was that Samuel seemed to spend inordinate amounts of time explaining certain aspects of human behaviour and relationships to himself that any neuro-typical individual would find bleedingly obvious. Too much of this, and I just lost interest in the mystery.
The most annoying thing about this book for me was the lack of puzzling that I had to do to hit on the answer before it was revealed. Without giving away any spoilers, there comes a certain point in the investigation during which information comes to light that matches up so perfectly with the manner of death that there really couldn’t be any other plausible result.
On the positive side, I really liked Samuel’s mum and Mike as characters. The ending was certainly action-packed, even if the actual reveal wasn’t a particular surprise. There is certainly potential for this series to be really engaging, if a bit of judicious editing is applied, but I don’t think I’ll be picking it up again.
As always though, don’t let my curmudgeonly grumbling put you off – if this book sounds like your cup of tea, give it a go and tell me what you think!
Until next time,