The Question of the Felonious Friend
Author: EJ Copperman, Jeff Cohen
**I received a copy of this book from Midnight Ink via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**
In this 3rd book in the An Asperger's Mystery series, Samuel accepts a question from a client who also falls within the Autism spectrum. Tyler Clayton wants to know if a convenience store clerk that he sees daily and who has been to his house to play video games is really his friend. Samuel investigates and answers the question. Clayton's reaction to the answer is not pleasant. Samuel is shocked when soon after the police inform him that the store clerk is dead, shot to death in the convenience store. Standing above the body with a gun in his hand was Tyler Clayton.
Because his answer to Clayton's question may be the reason the store clerk is dead, Samuel begrudgingly accepts another question from Tyler Clayton's brother -- Who killed the store clerk?? He doesn't believe Tyler pulled the trigger, but he will doggedly follow the clues no matter who is pinpointed as the murderer in the end.
I loved this book! Sometimes mystery novels, especially cozies, fall into a formula. A + B = C....just with a bit of variation in pets, cute jobs, and campy side characters and the addition of recipes, themed tips or other extras added at the end of the book. This series breaks loose from that mold...focusing on a main character who lives with what most people would term a "disability'' that makes him stand out as different or odd. Samuel uses his unique personality and its positive points to run a research business for clients wanting answers to questions. With his support structure in place to prevent him making inadvertent social faux pas or to help him understand certain nuances of others behavior, Samuel follows each question to its undeniable, correct answer. Even when it requires him to investigate crimes.
The mystery is interesting and engaging, but my enjoyment of the story was more character-based. Having known several people with Asperger's, this book gave me some insight into their behavior that I didn't know before. It was so interesting to read Samuel's point-of-view about others behavior, about others with Asperger's and his thoughts on daily life. I also enjoyed his relationships with his mother and his friend, Mrs. Washburn. They aided him in his investigations....they did not attempt to "fix'' or direct him to change his personality, rather offered advise and opinions from a non-Asperger's viewpoint, and let him form his own conclusions. Available by text message when Samuel finds himself in difficulty, his mother lends her support without pressuring him or over-reacting. Their interactions were perfectly written and made the story more believable and engaging.
The mystery had several suspects, twists and perfect pace. I was engrossed in the story from beginning to end! At first, I really didn't know what to expect....a mystery novel with a main character who has Asperger's...I just wasn't sure if I would like it or not. I was pleasantly surprised!! Great book! Well-written plot and characterization! Samuel and his quirky habits are written in an honest, but endearing way. Asperger's and its effects on behavior are handled in a respectful, truthful manner. Samuel is who he is, and he uses his skills and talents to the best of his abilities.
I highly recommend this book to any reader who wants to step away from "formula'' mysteries and try something different, especially if they know anyone within the autism-spectrum.
EJ Copperman and Jeff Cohen are both pseudonyms for mystery novelist Jeffrey Cohen. This is the 3rd Asperger's Mystery. As Copperman, Cohen writes the Haunted Guesthouse mysteries (one of my favorite cozy series!). As Cohen, he writes the Aaron Tucker and Double Feature mystery series. I can honestly say this is my first experience with an author who collaborates with himself to write a mystery series. I applaud Cohen for his quirkiness that comes across in his novels! I am never disappointed -- fabulous books and very memorable author, no matter which pen-name or personality he is using at the time. :) Love it! Check out his author websites: www.ejcopperman.com and www.jeffcohenbooks.com/wp,