A Night at the Operation by Jeffrey Cohen
Most men wouldn’t be terribly upset if their ex-wives suddenly vanished. But most men aren’t Elliot Freed. So when Sharon disappears, Elliot finds it impossible to focus on running Comedy Tonight. And when it’s rumored that Sharon might be somehow connected to a patient’s death—which looks like murder—Elliot embarks on a frantic search for his ex with help from her soon-to-be-second-ex-husband, Elliot’s passive-aggressive mother and desperate-to-please father, and his good friend Detective Meg Vidal. And the longer Sharon is gone, the less stable Elliot becomes…
The Double Feature Mysteries have to be one of the funniest mystery series I’ve read, and this latest installment is not an exception. It’s full of one-liners and laugh out loud moments. Even though Elliott is scared to death about Sharon, and the theater is by turns flooding and catching on fire, Elliott’s sense of humor still shines through. It’s a reflex, a part of his personality, and he can’t help it.
I’m not a movie buff, but I’m sure that if I were, I would even appreciate the books more. For example, I didn’t know that the private investigator’s name, Allen Koenisgsberg, is actually Woody Allen’s real name, until I read it on Cohen’s website. I did realize, though, that the scene in which a bunch of people are crammed into a tiny room is a homage to the Stateroom Scene in the Marx Brothers’ “A Night at the Opera.” The film facts at the back are great trivia about the classic movies mentioned in the book.
I can’t forget about the mystery itself. It’s quirky and fun. First the man’s dead, then he’s not, then he is again. There are twists and turns, several suspects and red herrings and, of course, the final confrontation. I didn’t know who dunnit before it was revealed, but I never do.
This is a book I smiled through. It’s funny and I love the characters. The relationship between Elliott and Sharon takes an interesting twist, but I’m not going to let you in on it. The characters are so well-drawn and the way they interact with each other is priceless, especially Elliott’s teenage employees and Chief Dutton and Elliott’s parents and Gregory, the soon-to-be other ex-husband, and all of them, actually.
I will say, that while this one can stand alone, I would definitely start at the beginning of the series if you haven’t read them yet. They’re worth it.