Friday, July 1, 2011

Some Like It Hot-Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen

Plot: The man didn't laugh at the Blind Man scene in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. That's when Elliot Freed, owner of the struggling Comedy Tonight move theater, started thinking something was wrong. He was dead right. Keyword being "dead". One investigation later, the police discover that the man had been killed by poisoned popcorn. Elliot hops on his bike to find the killer, hoping a murder won't hurt his meager ticket sales and bringing humor to the somber atmosphere of the ongoing investigation.

First Line: "The guy in row S, seat 18, was dead, all right."

Comments: This is the funniest murder mystery I have ever read. Elliot Freed uses sarcasm, dry humor, one-liners - anything he can do to make you laugh. And he does. This is a giggle-out-loud book all the way. Even at suspenseful moments, Elliot's witty narration diffuses the tension. That certainly annoys several of the deadpan, serious police officers, but though they attempt to shoo Elliot away, he insists on persevering. Elliot is definitely an interesting character.

I loved the detailed, easily imaginable characters in this story. Sophie, the theater's cashier, while perhaps an excessively stereotypical teenage girl, is simple and one-dimensional but an important piece of the story. Chief Dutton is the law looming overhead but has a friendly, reasonable personality that contradicts common perceptions and adds yet more intrigue to the twists of the plot. And Elliot himself is simply spectacular.

I fervently hope there are (or will be) more Elliot Freed novels, though I suppose the chances of a movie theater owner encountering yet another murder are a little slim. This book was hilarious and complex.

Rating: I rate this book a ten out of ten.

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Plot: Remember the big, bad wolf who killed Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother? He had a son. Years after his father's incarceration, Henry struggles under the heavy weight of prejudice that his father's crimes have placed on his shoulders. But when he receives several long-lost letters from his father, Henry is thrust into a dangerous world of drugs and deadly secrets. He must choose to either walk his father's path or find his own.

Comments: This book is very creative; from the perspective of the big, bad wolf's son, it includes interspecies interaction and "racism", a social hierarchy based on the separation of plebeians and patricians, and the likelihood of a boy to follow in his criminal father's footsteps.

A problem I came across while reading this book was my ability to suspend disbelief. I was very confused for the first couple chapters, unsure as to whether Henry was really a wolf, and if so, how he can have fingers, walk upright, and be the same size as a raven. Perhaps the author could have been more explicit than subtle? He did attempt to weave the explanation into the story, but it should have been clear from more or less the beginning.

Henry was an intriguing character. I felt as if he had a tired soul. He was a regular teenage boy, meaning he had a crush on a pretty girl (and of course they end up together) and didn't have many goals for the future. If he hadn't read those letters from his father, he probably would have spent the rest of his life doing absolutely nothing of importance. This makes his story crucial, because not only is he attempting to save the world as he knows it, but this will decide how he will live the rest of his life.

All in all, it was an enjoyable story. Very light-hearted reading, even if there is violence and a drug theme. Some of the dialogue didn't feel natural and the story line was a little predictable, but the characters and the general concept of the plot were new and refreshing.

Rating: I rate this book a seven out of ten.