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Saturday 2 January 2021

‘Inherit the Shoes’ by E J Copperman

Published by Severn House,
30 October 2020.
978-0-7278-9084-9 (HB)

E J Copperman may not be a familiar name to mystery readers here in the UK, but with a little bit of luck and good planning from a perceptive publisher, that may be about to change. And not before time.

E J and his sometime partner in crime Jeff Cohen (you’ll have to work out the relationship for yourself) have been among the most prolific writers of humorous mystery fiction in the American market for fifteen years to my certain knowledge, and possibly much longer. Inherit the Shoes is the first title in his seventh – yes, seventh – series, and when you’ve read it (which you definitely should), I guarantee you’ll want to go in search of the others. I especially recommend the Haunted Guesthouse series, which I sincerely hope is still going strong.

But I digress. So does E J, often to great comic effect, so I’m in good company. Inherit the Shoes features former prosecutor turned divorce lawyer Sandy Moss, a New Jersey girl (a theme which runs through all seven series) who has decamped to Los Angeles for reasons which are hinted at and will no doubt become clearer as the series progresses.

L A means Hollywood, of course, the home of fictionalized versions of all manner of walks of like, including the legal world. In Hollywood screen court cases, last-minute witnesses appear, defendants have heart attacks on the stand, revelations about secret affairs occur in mid-trial... you get the picture. So, when Sandy is asked to defend an actor accused of real-life murder, it’s no surprise, at least to the actor, when things become a lot more dramatic than is strictly credible.

The result, for those of us familiar with the style, is vintage E J Copperman. For those of you who aren’t, it’s a great introduction: larger than life characters, a lot wit and of sharp writing, a generous dollop of slapstick – and yes, slapstick does work on the page – an eleventh-hour rescue when all appears lost, and a down-to-earth protagonist bemused by it all, who I hope is destined to run and run.

You’ll have gathered I was a fan before I knew this book existed, but I’ll try to be objective. If E J  Copperman had a reputation in the UK before he invented Sandy Moss, this new series would only enhance it. As things stand, if it doesn’t garner him a raft of new fans, there’s no justice in the crime fiction world. And that’s one place where justice always prevails.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

E J Cooperman, is the nom de plume for Jeffrey Cohen, writer of intentionally funny murder mysteries in the Double Feature and Aaron Tucker series. As E.J. Copperman he writes the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, and now collaborates with himself on the Samuel Hoenig Asperger’s Mystery series. He’s been writing for a (nominal) living since graduating from Rutgers College during the Paleozoic Era and has had articles published in The New York Times When the idea for one of his countless unproduced screenplays wouldn’t cooperate and become a script, Jeff wrote it as a novel called For Whom the Minivan Rolls, and the book was published by Bancroft Press in 2002. It was followed in the Aaron Tucker series by A Farewell to Legs and As Dog Is My Witness. Aaron returned in a 2011 short story, The Gun Also Rises, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. The story won the Barry Award (at the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame!) for best short story of 2012. The Double Feature Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime began with Some Like It Hot-Buttered, which introduced Elliot Freed and his all-comedy movie theatre, Comedy Tonight. It was followed by It Happened One Knife and A Night at the Operation. Under the name E.J. Copperman, Jeff writes the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series, which began with Night of the Living Deed and continues with An Uninvited Ghost, Old Haunts, and Chance of a Ghost. There are now 10 books in the  series.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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