E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen, The Question of the Felonious Friend
Midnight Ink Books, 2016
Midnight Ink Books, 2016
One of the pleasures of reading an excellent series is having a new one to read. The problem, of course, if that I can read faster than the authors can write (except maybe for John Creasy), so now I have about a year to wait for the fourth book in the Copperman-Cohen Asperger’s mystery series [The Question of the Missing Head (2014), The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband (2015)].
Samuel Hoenig is the owner of Questions Answered, a company that will, for a price, answer (or try to answer) any question within reason. He has one employee, Janet Washburn, whom he met in the course of answering the question of the missing head. What starts us off in this installment is than a young man, Tyler Clayton, sends Samuel a text message asking if he can answer a question. As it happens, Tyler is right outside, in the parking lot. He comes in, and his question is a rather odd one…”Is Richard Handy really my friend?” Handy, as it turns out, works at a convenience store at which Tyler buys soft drinks; they have—once—played role-playing games together. And the book title is a hint that there is something going on.
What complicates this is that Tyler is on the Asperger spectrum (as is Samuel), which turns out to be both an advantage and a disadvantage in answering his question. Samuel rather quickly comes to a conclusion, and informs Tyler. And then things take a decidedly lethal turn—someone shoots Handy, and the police arrest Tyler. Somewhat against his will, Samuel takes on the task of answering the question of “Who Killed Richard Handy?” (which sounds like a book title). The path to an answer is not clear, and involves RPGs, a rather curious special RPG die, Ms. Washburn’s divorce, and some other side and central issues.
Samuel has grown, and continues to grow, as a character, and one of the appealing aspects of the books (which he narrates) is that he is both extremely self-aware and occasionally somewhat clueless about people to whom he refers (to himself) as neurotypicals. His relationship with Janet Washburn is also a work in progress, and this is handled beautifully. (I will add that this title reminds me so strongly of the way Erle Stanley Gardner titled his Perry Mason books, which, if intentional (or even if it is not), is a nice hip-of-the-hat to the mystery genre.)
This is a fine book in a series I cannot recommend highly enough.