The Question of the Dead Mistress
Fifth in the Asperger’s Mystery series, which started with The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen four years ago, The Question of the Dead Mistress is as enjoyable as any in the series, simply due to the character interactions.
Samuel, who has Asperger’s syndrome, runs an agency called Questions Answered. Each of the volumes is spurred by an unusual question, which usually leads to a murder to solve. In this case, the question is, “Is my husband having an affair with his dead girlfriend?” Since Samuel doesn’t believe in ghosts, the immediate answer is “no”, which brings him into conflict with his work partner Ms. Washburn, who says she’s seen one. (An interesting twist is the fact that Copperman, who is also Cohen, has written nine books in the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, which actually has ghosts in it, without question.)
Since the two are also now dating — and seeing Samuel deal with what that means is both funny and touching, as well as informative to the nature of neurodiversity — this complicates things.
Anyway, the mystery involves a not-very-nice real estate developer (always good when your murder victim isn’t really missed much by anyone), his suspicious widow, an old flame, her husband, and some frat brothers. Given the jobs and the way everyone cheats on each other, it shouldn’t be surprising this is set in New Jersey. Adding to the human situation is the presence of Samuel’s parents, continuing from the previous book, The Question of the Absentee Father.
As always, Samuel’s situation puts an involving twist on the standard “logical but bad with emotions” detective type. His narration puts the reader in a more sympathetic situation, as we discover how he thinks through things, coming up with surprising but solid rationales and solutions.
Unfortunately, this may be the last in the series. I hope it’s not, but word has come out that the publisher, Midnight Ink, is closing next year. Here’s hoping someone else picks up this clever mystery series. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)