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Dead Wrong: A New York Mystery; Bruce Kohler #2 (Bruce Kohler Series) Kindle Edition

213 customer reviews

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Length: 288 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this sequel to Zelvin's 2008 debut, Death Will Get You Sober, the psychotherapist author fails to match the empathetic portrait of her recovering alcoholic hero, reluctant sleuth Bruce Kohler, with a captivating whodunit. New Yorker Kohler, who's been sober for almost 10 months, gets dragged into a murder investigation after drug dealer Frankie Iacone is stabbed to death in the apartment of an alcoholic, Luz, whose sponsor is Kohler's best friend's girlfriend. Since the police regard Luz as the obvious suspect, Kohler and his pals decide to try to find the real killer. Their amateurish inquiries into Iacone's drug dealing soon land them in hot water. Zelvin does a good job depicting Kohler's internal struggles, especially his ambivalence toward his ex-wife, Laura Dare, who alternates between coming on to him and blowing him off while subjecting him to late-night phone calls threatening suicide. Still, some readers might wish for more psychological depth in the Dare sections. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Zelvin's story is good and her dialogue sparkles, but what's best is how she's created characters who are both over the top, and completely believable. Just like real people!"--SJ Rozan, Edgar award winner, author of The Shanghai Moon

“A heartbreaker of a novel. Through seamless prose and her lead series protagonist Bruce Kohler, Elizabeth Zelvin exposes the internal and external demons of recovering addicts and recovering lovers.  Much more than a mere whodunit, Death Will Help You Leave Him is a whydunit and the “whys” will haunt you long after the book is read.”--Naomi Hirahara, Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series

“A wonderful book—authentic, compassionate, and tough.”--Barbara D’Amato, two-time Anthony and Agatha awards winner

"With humor and heart, Zelvin writes about the challenges of sobriety and the beat of New York City with impressive accuracy.  Death Will Help You Leave Him is a terrific read."--Alafair Burke, author of Angel's Tip

“Elizabeth Zelvin proves with this second outing that she is not only here to stay but is indeed the sober version of the Thin Man series. No higher praise than that—ask Nora or Nick. A wondrous read.”--Ken Bruen, Shamus award winner and Edgar finalist

“Zelvin’s second effort is even more addictive than her first.  Death will help you leave him, but it won’t stop you from turning the pages.”--Reed Farrel Coleman, two-time Shamus award-winning author of Soul Patch

Product Details

  • File Size: 1928 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: booksBnimble (January 19, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 19, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DDU77R8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,774 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Elizabeth Zelvin writes mysteries and historical fiction. VOYAGE OF STRANGERS, about what really happened when Columbus discovered America, features young Jewish sailor Diego Mendoza. (See also the Agatha-nominated short story, "The Green Cross.") The latest novel in her mystery series featuring recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler is DEAD BROKE. The series includes DEAD SOBER (Death Will Get You Sober), DEAD WRONG (Death Will Help You Leave Him), DEAD in the HAMPTONS (Death Will Extend Your Vacation), and DEAD GURU (Death Will Save Your Life) as well as several short stories. Liz is a three time Agatha Award nominee and a Derringer Award nominee for Best Short Story. Her author website is at

Liz is also a New York City psychotherapist and, as Liz Zelvin, a singer-songwriter with an album of original songs, OUTRAGEOUS OLDER WOMAN, available on Amazon. Liz's music website is at For more than a decade, she has worked with clients all over the world as an online therapist at In addition, Liz is a poet with two books of poetry published, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, and a doting grandma. She is currently working on the next two books about the adventures of Diego Mendoza.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Christy Tillery French VINE VOICE on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler is taking things one day at a time with the help of his friends Jimmy and Barbara, while trying to place limits with his ex-wife who has bouts of depression and sporadically threatens suicide. Barbara, an addictions counselor, talks Bruce and Jimmy into doing some independent sleuthing when Luz Colon, her Al-Anon sponsee, is suspected of murdering her abusive boyfriend, Frankie Iacone. Frankie, a former drug dealer married to someone else, had just gotten out of rehab hours before being found dead in Luz's apartment. Barbara hopes Bruce and Jimmy may be able to learn more about Frankie and the people he knew through their AA connections. Along with Luz, the three team up and separate and team up again as they try to unearth the murderer. Eventually they step on the wrong toes, which places Bruce's and Luz's lives in danger.

This, the second in the mystery series featuring recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler, is an intriguing whodunit set against the gritty backdrop of New York City and its diverse cultures. As with the first, much emphasis is placed on the recovery process and Zelvin relays Kohler's, as well as others', constant battle with addiction in a realistic, empathetic manner. The plot moves at a quick pace with enough suspects to keep the reader guessing.
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Grandmother of six on August 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been dying for a good mystery so I picked an author I hadn't read before. Mostly I liked the title and the promise that this was a "humorous New York mystery." The first line intrigued me with the use of the fascinating word "scootched." You don't come across that word every day. Written in a cliche film noir style, the prose reminds me a bit of a Janet Evanovich knock-off. The set-up was interesting. All good.

But before long I became confused over who the narrator was. At first I thought the story was being told by a woman. Bruce Kohler notices things a woman would notice. His descriptions are feminine. Barbara seems to be his best friend. As a female writer, I know how tough it is to make dialogue sound masculine. The use of three main sleuths reminded me of one of my favorite writers, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries.

I forged ahead but pages of pointless dialogue overwhelmed me. Sometimes the scenes featured more than three people making it difficult to keep up with who was saying what. I started skimming. Sometimes when the point of view changed to Barbara or Luz, I would wonder who in the world is this talking. Suffice it to say, I found this mystery disappointing. Not because of the plot, but the excessive dialogue gives it a ponderous stalling feeling. Too much extra weight.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By mrsdepass on March 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"A Humorous New York Mystery" remains a mystery, at least to me. After reading the one- and two-star reviews, I acquired the book anyway, in the hope that the title reflected at least some hope. Unfortunately it was "so much hope (well, maybe not SO much), so little reward" and by the time I got to the end, I was wishing whoever croaked Frankie had saved one bullet for ME. (Actually, there wasn't much mystery surrounding whodunit although there were plenty of characters - and I use the term loosely - from which to choose.) The plot was like a drop of ink in the water, all manner of threads going every direction but toward forming a story. The AA and shrinkette agendas were much too pervasive - actually they were the main focus of the plot - balls constantly in play, with a token murder thrown in just for the occasional diversion and to give the "story" a genre to hang onto, and there was little, if anything, I found humerous. The only thing I can recommend giving this book is a wide berth.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In New York, drug dealer Frankie Iacone is found dead in the apartment of his girlfriend Luz. The police suspects Luz stabbed her boyfriend who just came out of rehab as they insist her motive is learning he had a wife and children living in Brooklyn.

Luz's counselor Barbara, her boyfriend Jimmy and his best buddy recovering alcoholic Jimmy investigate the homicide. Bruce also struggles with his dealings with his former wife bipolar addict Laura who he still sleeps with and who tempts his addiction. Their unprofessional investigation leads the trio into trouble with the police and with associates of Frankie as they attend his funeral where they meet his warm Italian family including his pregnant wife.

In his second appearance (see DEATH WILL GET YOU SOBER) Bruce and his amateur sleuth cohorts make for an intriguing urban mystery as they fumble their way through the city's most downtrodden residents trying to find the killer. The story line is a very dark look at the mean streets of New York from the view of the undesirable forgotten. For instance Bruce's ex spouse is a fascinating character as she uses the threat of suicide as a defense mechanism to get Bruce to come over and then either kicks him to curb or has sex with him. His confusion as to how to escape the relationship enhances a psychological look at New York's emotionally desperately needy as the people overwhelms the whodunit.

Harriet Klausner
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Janice Law on June 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Liz Zelman's Bruce Kohler, newly sober and conversant with all things therapeutic, is seriously into recovery. He'd be a dull boy but for his friends, Jimmie, a fellow surviver of AA, and Barbara, a spunky therapist who interprets her license as encompassing more than a little detective work on the side.

Barbara thinks murder cases are just the thing to keep Bruce off the booze and soon enough she presents him with a doozy. Her Al Anon sponsor's Luz's boyfriend has been found dead in her apartment. The corpse comes with drug-dealing associates and vengeful relatives, giving Bruce more than enough to keep his mind off drink - and focused on survival.

A wide variety of characters and bright dialogue if maybe a tad too much about the recovery process.
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