Early on in Jeff Cohen's Some Like It Hot-Buttered, his hero, Elliot Freed, explains that despite his own
wisecracking ways and his loving comedy so much he created a movie theatre dedicated to it, he hates when friends
forward him every email joke they see, because he doesn't like jokes. The difference is about wit and humor vs
contrived stories that are nothing but the artificial set up for a punch line.
It's a difference Cohen gets right in his own writing. Sure, he rarely misses a chance for a wisecrack, but
those are a believable and organic part of his characterization, with none of the feeling too many current
"humorous mysteries" have that telling a real story comes in a distant second to fitting in as many would-be
jokes as possible.
Selling his book to Hollywood gave thirty-something Elliot enough money to take time and think about what he
wanted to do with the rest of his life, along with a profound belief that whatever he wanted, it wasn't to write
more books nobody reads or put up with what happens when they get turned into movies. So he fulfills a dream,
using his nest egg to buy a fixer upper old theater and turning it into Comedy Tonight. After all, he's got the
alimony from his ex-wife, the doctor, to live on, and his best friend Dad to help with the fixing up. Comedy
turns to tragedy one night when a patron is found dead, with the subsequent investigation turning up evidence
of a movie pirating scheme in the theater basement.
Elliot's a man of principal - he bikes rather than drives and sold the house he inherited from his parents
because he felt it was wasted on him, a single man without kids. When the cops start zeroing in on his young
staff, with no signs of considering anyone else, Elliot decides to investigate himself, to protect them. Of
course it doesn't hurt that it gives him an excuse to spend more time with a beautiful policewoman who actually
seems interested in him too. And there is real investigation in this story, not just a series of wise cracks
and some fun characters. Some of the answers Elliot digs up seem and are obvious, but there are plenty of
surprises by the end.
This a fast, fun read with a lot of character development and a lot of quirky humor. A story about people
you believe in and care about, filled with wry grins and some rueful ones. Recommended.