Night of the Living Deed (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery)
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133 of 136 people found the following review helpful
First cozy mysteries by unknown authors are usually bad. I had just finished a moderately bad first cozy (by a totally different author, obviously) and was debating whether it was worth a trip to the library to avoid a second. Boy, am I glad I gave this book a chance, instead.

The premise isn't reassuring... divorcee with young child moves back home to Start Over, acquiring an old fixer-upper mansion that turns out to have two resident ghosts. It's kinda been done.

However, this author is just a treat. The prose is solid and laugh-out-loud funny. The story advances nicely and you don't even hardly mind the nosiness that is required of every amateur sleuth because it's well-written and downright entertaining. The author also manages to do something with which many uber-successful authors struggle, and that is to create some tension, some dissent among characters (the stuff that gives characters character) without making them seem like absolutely unlikeable people. Or ghosts, for that matter. The reader is able to develop empathy for everyone in the story, which I think is just magic.

This is a beautiful first mystery and I look forward to many more!

Ooooh.... checking the author's website, I see that "E.J. Copperman is the pseudonym of a well-known mystery novelist, now embarking on a new type of story that includes some elements of the supernatural as well as a fair number of laughs. And the Copperman novels will have a different attitude, a different setting and completely different characters than anything that has come before, so E.J. really is a new author." Well, that explains a lot as this doesn't read like a first novel! Turns out our author is Jeff Cohen, whose books I haven't read but maybe will give a try on the strength of this one. And I have to say that Mr. Cohen totally convinced me he was a woman author, writing so convincingly about this female protagonist!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
After her divorce from Steven AKA as the Swine, Alison Kirby wants to start over with her nine years old daughter Melissa. She buys a seven bedroom four bath fixer upper beach house and does her own repairs. Her plan is to open up a guest house; sans breakfast. Her project is coming along nicely until a bucket of compound falls on her head; knocking Alison out cold. When she awakens she sees the ghost of Maxie Moline and her bodyguard private detective Paul Harrison.

They both died in the house with the official verdict being a double suicide. Paul insists they never took the sleeping pills that caused their deaths; instead he claims to Alison someone poisoned them. They plead with Alison to look into their contention, but she says no until Maxie's antics drive her crazy so feeling like a victim of emotional erosion she agrees. Alison soon receives threatening emails and phone calls in which she is told they want "it" as she investigates what happened to the ghosts and links that to the threats to her. She finds a suspect, but to prove her belief requires her to employ extraordinary measures as deadlines leave her in a cemetery on Halloween night.

Witty, charming and magical describe the entertaining first Haunted Guest House mystery. The spirits interact with Alison, her daughter and mother as if they are alive; especially moxie Maxie with her antics to blackmail the heroine into investigating her demise. In between home repairs, a very frightened Alison tries to determine who is terrifying her and if the threat is tied to the deaths of her ghostly houseguests. Her trepidation and her relationship with her daughter make for an enjoyable paranormal amateur sleuth tale.

Harriet Klausner
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2010
Just in time for vacation reading, "Night of the Living Deed" provides a fun escape to the Jersey Shore, where recently divorced mom Alison Kerby is rehabbing an old house she plans to open as an inn -- if the resident ghosts, Maxie & Paul, will let her. Mischievous Maxie has a way of interfering with Alison's renovations, while Paul, who was a private eye, wants the home's new owner to help him solve a mystery: who killed him & Maxie? Not surprisingly, Alison is pretty freaked out by the prospect of owning a haunted house, especially one where the ghosts won't leave her alone to get on with her repairs. "Night" will, of course, appeal to fans of paranormal tales, but thanks to its likable, down-to-earth heroine, E.J. Copperman's new series is well worth a try for anyone in the mood for a witty, well-crafted mystery.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 1, 2010
Allison Kerby and her nine-year-old daughter Melissa have just moved to the historical coastal village of Harbor Haven, New Jersey. Allison plans to renovate the Victorian mansion at 123 Seafront Avenue, turning it into a guest house. However, her plans begin unraveling upon discovering her new home is haunted by the ghosts of two people (the former owner, Maxie Malone, and a detective, Paul Harrison) who were murdered there. Hilarious shenanigans soon follow as Allison learns to cope with a host of pesky ghosts, quirky friends and relatives and devious townspeople. However, the one responsible for Maxie and Paul's deaths begins threatening Allison. Unless she can find a deed hidden somewhere inside 123 Seafront Avenue, she and her daughter will be the next ones to die.

E. J. Copperman's "Night of the Living Deed" is a fine example of a cozy mystery. Humorous and heart-warming, it is a wonderful respite from the gritty, hard-boiled crime drama that I normally read. "Night of the Living Deed" is devoid of gratuitous sex and violence and, most importantly, the foul language that often grates on my nerves such as blasphemies. Allison, who is the narrator, made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions. Most importantly, the mystery itself is very intricate, complex and intriguing; it reminded me of an Agatha Christie novel, especially the ones where characters are poisoned such as "Sparkling Cyanide." Determined to learn who murdered Maxie and Paul, I had a difficult time laying aside this novel. The more I read, the fonder I became of Allison and her circle of family and friends, which included the beloved ghosts.

The setting for "Night of the Living Deed" is superb. For both young and young at heart, it is a fantasy come to life. Ever since those Saturday morning cartoon days of watching "Casper the Friendly Ghost," many of us have wondered what it would be like to live in a haunted house and have a ghost for a friend. 123 Seafront Avenue is nostalgic beachfront property in desperate need of repair. The town of Harbor Haven is rich in Revolutionary War history. Not only did George Washington sleep there but he also bought some beachfront property. Furthermore, Allison and Melissa move into the Victorian mansion in October. The novel's climax occurs on Halloween night when all the children are trick or treating. Fall is my favorite season and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.

Allison Kerby is the novel's strong, independent heroine. She is not going to let anyone, or anything, prevent her from restoring her Victoria mansion. You can't help but admire a woman who knows how to use tools. (As for me, I think I may have used a screwdriver at one time; I do know how to change a light bulb.) Allison can deftly strip wall paper, sand floors and remove kitchen cabinets. She is also a protective mother, a good friend, a loving daughter and an aspiring sleuth, thanks to one of the ghosts, Paul, who coaxes her. Allison is also an attractive woman; not only does Paul seem to have a crush on her but so does Melissa's handsome history teacher, Ned Barnes.

Surprisingly, Harbor Haven is a corrupt little town. There are numerous suspects who could've killed Maxie and Paul. A lot of people want to buy 123 Seafront Avenue and/or find the deed that is hidden somewhere inside. Allison can only trust her daughter, her mother, Loretta Kerby, her close personal friends, Tony and Jeannie Rogers, and the two ghosts. Despite the humor, there is quite a bit of suspense as Allison searches for the killer's identity. Allison finding a dead body is shocking as well as the shootout in the haunted McArver Cemetery. Furthermore, this novel has some plot twists a la Agatha Christie.

Fans of paranormal cozy mysteries will not be disappointed with "Night of the Living Deed," the debut in a new series (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery) written by E. J. Copperman, which is the mysterious penname for a popular author. "Night of the Living Deed" is a beautiful blend of gothic mystery, horror and romance. What captivated me the most was the bountiful assortment of lovable, delightful characters. I am definitely looking forward to reading about them again. In fact, I plan on haunting the local bookstores until the sequel, "An Uninvited Guest," is published in April of 2011.

Joseph B. Hoyos
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2010
I loved this book. It was way better than I thought it would be.

The story is about a single mom named, Alison and her daughter, Melissa. Alison has bought an old house, in hopes to fix it up and open a Bed and Breakfast. Something happens to her, and I won't say what, and she finds out that there are two ghosts in the house. Not only can she see them, but also can communicate with them. Once the ghosts know this, they tell her that someone killed them in that house, and they want Alison to find out who killed them, and why. Soon, the killer is after Alison. That's all I really want to say about the plot. A lot of things happen, but if I tell you what, then it will spoil the story.

There are a lot of interesting plot twists. One of them has to do with something that's hidden in the house, and the killer wants it. Again, I can't say what it is, because I don't want to spoil anything. There are a few interesting plot twists,again if told, it would ruin a lot fun that's in the book.

I really liked all of the characters in the book. Alison has a smart lil mouth on her, and it added a lot of comedic elements to it. I also liked the character of Melissa, Alison's daughter. She's nine, but at times, she seemed to be a bit older. We get to meet Alison's mom, her friends, and other people that live in the town, along with the two ghosts. All of the characters seemed life like, and people that you'd know.

The writing style was okay. The book flowed at an even pace and held my attention. That being said, it wasn't perfect. I have a pet peeve when it comes to writing, and Copperman was guilty of it. She used parentheses in the sentences a lot, and it was very annoying. She did it almost in every single page, and sometimes 6 to 7 times per page. An example would be, and this wasn't in the book, but just an example:

I had lunch (the chicken salad was soooo tummy) with a friend, and we had a good time.

It was just so annoying, and the info in the parentheses offers nothing to the story. For me, it has just the opposite effect, it took away from the story. That was pretty much the only thing I didn't like about it.

I also love the paranormal elements to the book, and that's something the author did her research on. It's common for kids to see ghosts. It's also very common for paranormal activity to pick up when someone is doing renovations on a house. You'd be amazed on how many authors don't get that part right. Cooperman did a good job on that aspect.

I liked this book much more that I thought I would. I can't wait for the next installment. If you start this series, I can promise you won't be sorry. I know I wasn't.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2010
I really enjoy paranormal mysteries and was excited to find this new series. A newly divorced mom and her 9 year-old daughter move into an historic mansion with the intention of renovating and turning it into a guest house. It's not long before they tangle with the dead residents of the house; 2 ghosts who are trapped on the property after their alleged double-suicide. This dilemma is compounded with a fair number of suspicious characters interested in the house and looking to get their hands on something hidden somewhere in it. Our single mother has to get to the bottom of 2 mysteries; who killed the ghosts and what treasure is hidden somewhere on her property?

It's a light read and moves fast. I found it was only so-so on the mystery meter and very light on the ghost story. My guess is we will learn more about the ghost in coming books, so I would recommend this as a nice diversion when you don't want anything too intense.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2012
This review was originally posted on my blog: The Bibliophile's Corner

This book encompasses so many things that I adore in a good mystery. Ghosts, a small, cozy town with lots of history, unforgettable characters, realistic relationships, and of course a good case to be solved. From the beginning, I was hooked solely on the relationship between Alison and her daughter, Melissa, whom I adore. She reminds me a lot of my eleven year old sister at times with her no-nonsense, logical responses that are completely out of the norm for one so young. This no-nonsense and witty banter between mother and daughter is probably one of my favorite aspects of this novel.

When it comes to female characters, Alison is such a breathe of fresh air. Recently divorced, instead of being depressive and "woe is me," she is incredibly witty and has the ability to make jokes at herself. In particular, jokes in reference to vibrating objects. Along with keeping herself in good humor, she is a strong and determined woman who refuses to let anything beat her. A wonderful role model for her daughter, Melissa. And oh my, how I love Melissa. Alison's nine year old daughter is, at times, so mature of her age. She makes comments and asks questions that always catch Alison off guard and leaves her amazed at the logic of her child. Their relationship is wonderful and it's so great to see a strong mother-daughter, post divorce.

Now for our ghosts. Paul and Maxie are such an unlikely duo. Paul, a level headed, albeit a one track minded, private detective and Maxie, a restless, rebellious, and lovable pain in the ass are stuck in Alison's guesthouse. They both want nothing more than to figure out why they were murdered. I loved the take charge attitude Paul commands when Alison decides to help them. Sometimes you forget he's dead. And Maxie, I just wanted to shake her at times so she would stop ruining the renovations. My heart cringed every time progress was made, only for Maxie to mess them up.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2010
This book had it all - from the picturesque Jersey Shore setting to an historical home, desperately in need of an overall and perhaps, an exorcism, to a group of feisty females banding together in search of a killer. This dialogue is witty, the writing crisp, and the reveal will surprise even the most eagle-eyed readers. Mr. Copperman has scored a home run!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Night of the Living Deed is a really good book. The main character Alison is a mom of a 9 year old daughter. They're relationship is really strong. As is Alisons and her mother. She gets hit on the head and next thing she know there's ghosts in her kitchen. Paul and Maxie. Paul was a private investigator and Maxie was the previous owner of the house that Alison bought. Suicide? I think not. This book has action,drama, comedy and a little romance thrown in. If u like mysteries you'll like this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2010
Huge Victorian house on the beach, renovations, articulate ghosts with distinct personalities and a lot to say--how can a reader resist? This book is a solidly satisfying read. The plot is intricate enough to hold a reader's attention, and there are plenty of interactions between characters so well-developed that I kept feeling I already knew someone like each of them. It's all put together with intelligence and a quirky sense of humor. It's such an enjoyable book that I did something I've only done once or twice before: I finished it, flipped back to the first page, and read it through again. E.J. Copperman created an atmosphere I just didn't want to leave. Let's hope this is the first in a long series.
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