A Mysterious Detective Mystery by E. J. Copperman
Review: Rachel Goldman is a mid-list mystery author with four books out featuring prosecutor's consultant Duffy Madison, a specialist in finding missing persons. While at a bookstore doing a signing for her latest book, a man approaches her and says he needs her help. He's a prosecutor's consultant assisting in finding a woman, who has disappeared. And he introduces himself as Duffy Madison, in Written Off, the first mystery in this series by E. J. Copperman.
Rachel, of course, thinks the man is crazy. But he insists he is Duffy Madison and has official IDs to prove it. But there is a strange coincidence they both share: Rachel's first book featuring Duffy was published four years ago, at almost exactly the same time that Duffy began his current career as a prosecutor's consultant. What he was doing before that he doesn't remember; indeed, he doesn't remember anything about his life prior to four years ago. But he has a job to do today, and Duffy believes Rachel can be of assistance: the missing person is a bestselling mystery author, someone Rachel is familiar with (albeit by her pen name) and once spoke at length with at a conference. And she's not the first. Three other mystery authors, in various stages of their careers, had gone missing and later turned up murdered. Rachel wants nothing to do with in-person Duffy, though she admits (to herself) she's intrigued with how similar he is to her fictional character, from the way he dresses and carries himself to the way he speaks. She reluctantly agrees to help, only to be drawn further into the overall investigation when the missing author turns up dead, and the killer seems to have targeted Rachel as next.
The premise behind Written Off is a clever one, but the mystery that Rachel and Duffy are solving is based on a foundation of overused clichés. The worst of these is making Rachel a target of the killer. How refreshing it would have been to have Rachel and Duffy use their combined insight to pursue and ultimately identify the killer without having Rachel becoming ensnared (and for really no good reason) in a trap and moments from death before Duffy saves her. On the positive side, the characters are well-drawn in a familiar manner without being stereotypical, and the crisply written narrative and snappy dialog are a pleasure to read.
It's not clear how far this premise can be taken without becoming tedious for the reader. (It certainly tested a few boundaries at times here.) It is slightly disappointing that there is no resolution to the mystery of Duffy Madison at the end of this book, but, if the closing paragraph is any indication on what's to come, the next in the series should resolve it. And if not, then maybe the author can come up with a clever way of continuing for them to work together while stepping around the elephant in the room.
Acknowledgment: Crooked Lane Books provided an eARC of Written Off for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Question of the Felonious Friend
Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback), September 2016
ISBN-13: 9780738743516; ISBN-10: 0738743518
Location(s) referenced in Written Off: New Jersey
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Written Off by E. J. Copperman — A Mysterious Detective Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 2016
List Price: $25.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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