Elliot Freed is the owner of Comedy Tonight, an old movie house that shows strictly comedy movies - double feature comedy movies. But there is nothing funny about the man in row S, seat 18 Tuesday night. He's dead from...wait for it, poisoned popcorn, and Comedy Tonight has turned into a crime scene. As if that wasn't bad enough, while searching the "crime scene" the police uncovered bootleg videos. Copies of the same movie showing at Comedy Tonight, a movie that isn't available on video yet.
All leads point to Elliot's movie-obsessed projectionist, Anthony, but Anthony has vanished. Will this murder be solved before Comedy Tonight ends up the next victim?
I LOVE humor. So the use of tasteful, intelligent humor weaved into a plot always earns bonus points with me. SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED earned oodles of bonus points as I laughed out loud through practically the entire book. Cohen takes the humor of everyday life and expertly interjects it into dialogue, plot and character. What better way to help a reader connect with the characters and the story? I can't imagine reading this and not laughing while simultaneously thinking, "I know EXACTLY what he's talking about!" By the conclusion of the book, I realized that Cohen is an astute observer of life, and he can articulate the humor in all the absurdity. Elliot, himself, sums up Cohen's humor when he says,
"I hate jokes. I like wit, not contrived stories that end with someone making an obscene pun or confusing his wife with a horse or something."
Now THAT is my kind of humor!
The strengths of this book don't lie solely in Cohen's use of humor, though. Actually, the humor helps to enhance the other strengths. The characters in this book are so real you expect to walk out your door on the way to work and wave to them as you climb in your car to leave. Elliot is a man who is struggling with the loss of his marriage and the embarrassment of being on the receiving end of alimony. Sophie, his refreshment stand employee, is the epitome of a teenage girl struggling with identity, trying to establish who she is, rebelling against every form of authority. Even Elliot's father comes to life on the page. An older man trying to battle the forces of nature that are slowing him down. Cohen cements the characters with their relationships to each other and reminds the reader of how powerful those relationships are, even when we take them for granted.
There's magic on the pages of this book, either magic or glue. I simply couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what would happen with the murder investigation; I wanted to know what would happen between the characters. Cohen pulled me into Midland Height, New Jersey, and I walked away taking a part of it with me. Jeffrey Cohen's Double Feature Mystery Series will definitely be one of if not the greatest discovery of 2009 for me.
When you're ready for a healthy dose of laughter with your popcorn, I recommend SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED by Jeffrey Cohen.