Written Off: A Mysterious Detective Mystery
I enjoyed E.J. Copperman’s Asperger’s mystery The Question of the Missing Head so much that when I found out he was launching a new series, this time starring a female author, I jumped at the chance to read it. And I was not disappointed.
Written Off features Rachel Goldman, a mid-list mystery writer who’s in revisions on her fifth book. Her series character is Duffy Madison, a Holmesian police consultant who is scarily skilled at finding missing people. He’s direct, highly observant, and unusual in his abilities and approach.
Rachel is distracted by the editing work she’s got to do, and then she gets a completely unexpected visitor: a police consultant who says his name is Duffy Madison, although he also claims he’s never read her books. He’s working the case of a missing mystery author, and in addition to exploring their connection, he wants her advice about the field.
Most of the book is narrated by Rachel, with a lot of it featuring internal monologue. Copperman’s tone is modern and amusing, as though a friend was making snarky asides to you while watching a TV show. Sometimes it’s a little much, but the overall track record adds a great deal of humor. And a few over-ambitious failures show how hard the author is trying to entertain the reader.
This mystery kept me eager to read more, and I suspect fans, particularly those who want to know more about the book business, will enjoy it as well. It’s fun to see Rachel navigate a book signing, the emotional ups-and-downs of a potential licensing deal, and comparisons with a more successful writer. The central conceit — who is this guy who says he’s Duffy? is he really her character come to life? — provides an intriguing meta-level to the serial killer case, even if it’s promised to be continued into the next book. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)