BLUFF can be described as a comedic mystery, a romantic thriller, or maybe even a social satire with a bit of murder thrown in. Author Susan Yangaus has penned a well-plotted “cozy” mystery, which begins right from the start with a dead body rolled up in a tarp. “Eye witness” near-sighted Abby Ford-- a lawyer turned message therapist—described the body as being wrapped up like a burrito. Thus begins the fun word play, the quirky characters, and the tongue-in-cheek fun of the book. Although the mystery is compelling enough, I found that the real driving force of the novel was the cast of characters. Abby and the lead detective, sphinx-like Salvatore Santavillagio, aka “Fish” team up to identify the murder before he can get to Abby. Fish’s partner-- a tall, impeccably dressed and formal gentleman from India – is first introduced thus: “Detective E. S. Singh of the Property Crimes Unit was a fastidious man.” Singh is Felix to Fish’s Oscar as far as personal habits. Or, when the action hits, Singh could be seen as Spock—calculating and logical—to Fish’s wilder “Captain Kirk” like decision making skills. Circulating around them is a constellation of police detective friends who meet regularly for a poker game, and fulfill the role of a Greek chorus, commenting on the budding romance between Abby and Fish, or the progress of the case. More fun characters pop in and out of the story. There’s Harmony, a New Ager who communicates with cats and paints Abby’s apartment in all the colors of the Chakras, and there is Grandpa, who is the hands-down Romeo of his retirement home to name a few. But make no mistake; the story is not all huggably funny characters. There are plenty of dangers: firebombing, wild animals, car wrecks, and threatening notes to keep the reader turning pages. It is a great first novel in a series, well-edited, well-written, and fun. Give it a read!
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)