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Murder Mystery (Dade Cooley Book 1) Kindle Edition
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- Publication date : July 14, 2015
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 317 pages
- Publisher : Lume Books (July 14, 2015)
- File size : 4901 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- ASIN : B011OF8YRU
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,240,820 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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The hero of “Murder Mystery” is Dade Cooley, a 60ish attorney with a sharp mind, loving give-and-take relationship with his wife, and a fondness for quoting dirty limericks and expounding on various topics that often prove highly informative, both for his listeners in the book and the readers at home. Imagine a male version of Jessica Fletcher, who happens to be a married attorney, and you get an idea of the ambience author Thompson is trying to create here (the book was written in 1980, so there’s no copying involved).
Cooley’s latest client is not alive anymore; he represents the estate of the second, considerably younger wife of a wealthy art collector. She died in what the police first believe to be a bizarre accident, in which her car went into gear and pinned her against the wall of her garage (similar to what actually occurred to actor Anton Yelchin far more recently). Of course, it’s no accident, and pretty soon two other deaths follow. The case involves a possibly priceless painting that the victim tried to purchase that seems to have vanished, and a timeline that Cooley eventually reconstructs in which a multitude of people seem to be arriving and leaving the murder scene right around the time the first victim died.
Gene Thompson was originally a prolific TV sitcom writer before penning a few mystery episodes (including one of the best “Columbo” episodes) and turning to mystery and thriller writing in later years. That background shows here; the mystery itself in “Murder Mystery” is pretty good, and Thompson follows the traditional old-school formula, almost until the end. Cooley interviews various suspects, winds up representing several of them (the book’s treatment of the possible ethical conflicts involved in this seems a bit far-fetched). What’s best of all are his lengthy asides in which he explains some of the ramifications of estate law (the widower of the victim is the beneficiary of a family trust fund with some rather unique provisions that may or may not figure in the plot) and art forgery and authentication (which definitely does figure into the plot). The author has figured out the happy balance and provides just enough information on these subjects to entertain while not turning into an information dump research paper on the material.
Unfortunately, Thompson’s TV background also figures into the weakest part of the book, the finale. After Cooley gathers the suspects for the big reveal, the killer winds up still at large and the book becomes somewhat of a manhunt for the missing suspect. This type of thriller writing is not Thompson’s forte, and the book stalls somewhat as Cooley, the police and readers wait a couple of dozen pages for the killer to finally show up again for a final takedown that does prove rather satisfying.
Dade Cooley may be an attorney, but “Murder Mystery” has no courtroom theatrics of the “Perry Mason” variety or John Grisham-style thriller elements. Instead, it is something that Agatha Christie could have penned a half century before Thompson. The book is definitely a period piece of sorts (it would have turned out quite differently had various characters had cell phones), and there’s not a lot of character development here, but Thompson spends most of his time on Cooley and his wife, and their interludes together are quite entertaining, even when they don’t always advance the plot a lot. “Murder Mystery” is definitely a case of truth in advertising; this is an enjoyable murder mystery.