Monday, November 23, 2015

Blog Tour: A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger (Review/Guest Post/Tour-Wide Giveaway)

About the Book

2nd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Alibi (November 17, 2015)
An Imprint of Random House LLC
Publication Date: November 17, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Combining the classic charms of Agatha Christie with the delightful humor of M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin novels, Mark Reutlinger’s Mrs. Kaplan mystery series returns as a notorious crank meets an untimely fate.

Yom Kippur is a day of reflection and soul searching. But at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors, Vera Gold misses this opportunity to atone for her many sins when she up and dies. Indeed, Vera was such a pain in the tuchis to all those around her that when her sister claims Vera was deliberately poisoned, the tough question isn’t who would want to kill her—but who wouldn’t?

Having already solved one murder with her dear friend Ida, Rose Kaplan has a sleuthing reputation that precedes her. It’s only natural that Vera’s sister turns to Mrs. K for help. So do the police, but when her conclusions conflict with theirs, they tell her to butt out! This case has more twists than a loaf of challah. And with a homicidal scoundrel on the loose, Mrs. K has to act fast—or she might be the guest of honor at the Home’s next memorial service.

My Review

The first book is a delight. I was thrilled to see a follow up. This book oozes with charm, humor and mystery all rolled into one book. This is a pure joy to read.

What a pair Ida and Rose are! They are the perfect team and great friends too. Their friendship shines throughout this book. I thought it was a bit odd how the police sought help in their murder investigation from two senior citizens, but I was easily able to suspend my disbelief to sit back and enjoy the adventure.

I was a little surprised at the culprit, but not overly. I had my suspicions early on, but they were only suspicions. Discovering the whys and hows is the fun part. Great characters, humor, mystery...this book had all of that and more. I’m hoping for a third book and soon!

Mark Reutlinger is fast becoming a favorite of mine.

For reading challenges:
2015 NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge

FTC Disclosure: The author and NetGalley provided me with a copy of this book to review for this blog tour. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Author Guest Post

By Mark Reutlinger

The setting of a novel can be, of course, an actual place or an imagined one. If an actual place, it can be one the author knows well or one he has never seen. My preference is to set my stories in familiar surroundings, although I do not hesitate to venture into unknown territory if the story leads me there. Thus Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death is set in a retirement home in a city without a name. While the city has characteristics borrowed from several of the communities where I have lived, it does not mirror any one of them. My novel Made in China, on the other hand, is set in the Northwest, where I now live, with scenes in Washington, D.C., where I have only visited, and references to Beijing, where I have never been. In Mrs. Kaplan, I was free to make up the streets, shops, and topography as best fit the story; in Made in China, I stuck quite close to the facts, not wanting to receive any messages pointing out I had said that, e.g., Pike Street in Seattle ran parallel to First Avenue, when “everyone knows” they are cross streets. A real-life setting has restrictions that a fanciful one does not.

Because the setting of Mrs. Kaplan is a retirement home, I have been asked (by people who don’t know me) whether my description of life in such a facility is “first-hand.” The answer is, “yes and no.” Yes, my descriptions are from first-hand experience; but no, at least as of today I have never lived in such a facility. Both my and my wife’s parents spent many years in retirement homes toward the end of their lives, and their experiences (and mine by extension) were both good and bad. In the best retirement facilities, the employees are caring people who are working there because they truly want to serve and support the residents. They establish friendly, even loving relationships with the folks they serve, and the result is an atmosphere in which the residents feel welcome and feel, literally, at home.

There are those retirement homes, on the other hand, whose main purpose seems to be simply to “manage” the residents as if they were so many head of cattle, to keep them alive and paying their fees, but to do as little as possible toward that end. The employees are just putting in their time, doing their jobs the same as they would if they were working on an assembly line. Their relationship to the residents is no closer than that of a mechanic fixing their car or a salesman selling them insurance. My mother spent a short time in just such a facility, one whose fancy trimmings belied its uncaring heart.

With this varied experience, I had to determine which kind of facility I wanted to depict in my story. As I was not setting the story in an actual place, I was free to choose how to describe it. By altering the setting, I could give my readers very different pictures of life inside a retirement home. I decided the Julius and Rebecca Home for Jewish Seniors should reflect the best, not the worst, of those I had seen. I was writing a humorous mystery story, not an expose. At the same time, however, I wanted to be realistic about it, so I included a few of the flaws (such as an uncaring manager) from which even the best retirement homes can suffer from time to time. I also took the opportunity to show that life for these residents does not end when they enter. There are friendships, even romances. There are new things to learn and many ways to remain productive members of society. I hope my descriptions of the Home in Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death and subsequent books in the series not only enhance the stories I am telling, but also serve to shed some light on an aspect of life that is becoming increasingly common but is often misunderstood.

Thus realism and imagination both have their places. One offers a ready-made setting with which to work, while the other provides unlimited scope for the imagination.

About the Author

Mark Reutlinger is the author of the novels Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death and Made in China. A professor of law emeritus at Seattle University, Reutlinger was born in San Francisco, graduated from UC Berkeley, and now lives with his wife, Analee, in University Place, Washington.
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  1. A Pain in the Tuchis sounds like a fun mystery (I like the title of this book).

  2. A Pain in the Tuchis is a wonderful read. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Mark Reutlinger


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