Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Reviewing: "It Happened One Knife: A Double Feature Mystery" by Jeffrey Cohen
It has been four months since patrons darkened the comedy tonight movie theater in New Jersey. The balcony has been fixed, the snacks are in a new display case, there are new seats in the theater and all is right with the world. In fact, Elliot Freed, owner and occasional investigator, is allowing his projectionist to screen his violent western "Killin' Time."
Elliot made a promise and Anthony did his part so the movie is playing to a large crowd. A movie that Elliot pretty much doesn't like and not just because it isn't a comedy. Despite Eliot's opinion and probably because it is excessively violent and graphic, the movie is a sure hit according to the rep for the comedy film distributor.
"'It’s got blood!' Vic held up a finger. 'It's got cursing.' Another finger. 'Killing, sex, cruelty, character's nobody could like.' Finger, finger, finger, thumb on the other hand. It can't miss.'" (Page 4)
Vic wants the movie and plans to work a deal with a studio for Anthony and take a piece of the money a long the way. The idea that this gruesome movie could be a hit appalls Elliot who is a fan of the classic comedy. Almost as appalling is the fact that when Anthony's one print of the film turns up missing minutes later, Anthony accuses Elliot of taking it over jealousy and a need to keep Anthony in his place. Something a number of other folks seem to believe as well.
That storyline becomes secondary to the main point of the book which is Elliot's opportunity to show as part of his double feature the legendary comedy movie "Cracked Ice." Starring a famous comedy team of Harry Lillis and Les Townes who ruled the mid 1950's to early 1960's, the movie is a personal favorite of Elliot's. Even better, Vic knows where Harry Lillis is living these days and that location isn't too far away giving Elliot a chance to meet one of his idols and have him come to the theater.
The problem with idols is that too often they are merely mortal men with feet of clay. The image on screen is far different than the reality and before long Elliot finds himself in a multi decade's old murder case involving the comedic duo. A case that, while it was hushed up back in the powerful movie studio days, once again may cause more death.
And if that isn't enough, Sharon, Elliot's ex-wife, just might want to get back together again.
Released last July, this sequel to the comedic mystery "Some Like It Hot Buttered" brings everyone back for another mystery that contains elements of humor and romance. Elliot Freed has a sarcastic streak that comes out under pressure and frequently comes out once this slow to get going novel moves into gear.
The mysteries are secondary to the character relationships which have driven both books. Family is important and that means much more than simple blood connections. For Elliot Freed, just about everyone involved in his life on a steady basis is family and his bike just might be as well.
Filled with references to comedy movies and other trivia, Jeff Cohen has created another enjoyable tale of romance, crime and comedy. It may not split your sides with laughter, like the Aaron Tucker series frequently will, but you will get plenty of chuckles along the way.
It Happened One Knife: A Double Feature Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin Group)
This book was provided by the Allen Public Library of Allen, Texas by way of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2009