Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review: The Big Brush Off by Michael Murphy

My favorite husband/wife detective duo is back!  Jake and Laura only get better with time.  I always have sort of a fear at the end of each book that the next one just can’t measure up, but they always do!  I love that Michael Murphy keeps them fresh and interesting, without taking away from the eccentricities that make them Jake and Laura.  They are happily married now, but they have just enough arguments and disagreements to keep it interesting!

 The Big Brush Off finds Laura at the top of her acting career, but Jake isn’t doing so well in his.  Book sales are down and his publisher informs him that if his next book isn’t great, they will drop him.  Then an old acquaintance comes to find him in New York.  She’s the mother of girl who was murdered ten years ago in a small Pennsylvania town.  Jake was still a Pinkerton detective at the time, and he was given the case.  He had just started working on it when he was called away to care for his sick father.  He was never able to return, the case was never solved and it has haunted him ever since.  Mary Caldwell is a sick woman, and it’s obvious that she’s dying.  She wants Jake to come back to Hanover and find out who murdered her daughter, Katie.  Jake refuses, even though he feels terrible about it.  Laura convinces him that Hanover would be a great place to relax and work on a new book.  He’s determined not to investigate the old case, but things start happening almost as soon as he arrives.  It’s obvious that someone in town doesn’t want Jake to find the answers, but how far will they go to stop him?  With Laura’s help and encouragement, Jake will finally close the case that has bothered him the longest.

The Jake and Laura books do have serious mysteries to solve, and a lot of intrigue along the way, but the aspect that makes this series special is the light-heartedness and humor in every book.  Most of it comes from the relationship between Jake and Laura.  For example, Jake gets locked out of their hotel room, and when he tries to break back in, he’s caught by the house detective.  Laura is ticked off at him, so she pretends that she doesn’t know who he is, nearly landing him in trouble with the police.  They end up with a good laugh over the situation, and Jake learns something else never to say to his wife again!  While the murders and mysteries are great, it’s situations like this that give these books their edge and make the series as great as it is.  And of course, no Jake and Laura book would be complete without the famous names.  I’m always curious to see who they’ll run into next.  So far they’ve met Cole Porter, Bill Powell, Amelia Earhart and Clark Gable among others.    

If you’re a fan of old-time radio shows or black and white detective movies, this is a series you don’t want to miss!

Happy Reading!


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own, and a favorable review was not required.  Look for The Big Brush Off on or around February 9.

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