This book of two stories was a very jolly affair, despite the murder which occurs in each one of them. The two central characters, Andre (who is alive) and Freddy (who isn't) are a sweet, almost believable couple who try to solve the crimes, each of which has occurred in Freddy's former houses. One is in New York City, the other in the countryside outside, enabling Freddy to assist Andre in his enquiries.
The Player is a cozy book indeed, fireside reading for those who love gentle humour, a dash of naughtiness and fade to black love scenes. The dialogue is smart, especially from serial name-dropper Freddy (Gershwin was "madly in love with him" apparently) and sweet, clever Andre is a lovely contrast to Freddy's acerbic wit. Andre's aunt is a delight, by the way.
Andre is a nosy little whatsit, for a piano teacher, but the other characters all seem to take his questions in good faith. There's a great mix of red herrings, femme fatales, annoying siblings and potential lovers who all do their best to confound the reader, to the point that I didn't guess who had done it, especially in the first book. By the second, I had wised up to the author's way of thinking, and was spot on.
The author has gone for inclusivity in a big way, but not in a manner that sounds worthy or preaching. The message clearly is love is love, no matter what gender, race, colour or state of mental health. The stories ooze goodwill to everyone, even the potential murderers, and the victims are all so repellent you just know they are going to be the ones to get it in the neck (pun absolutely intended.)
The only thing which felt a little off for me was the handling of the difficulties of having a loving relationship with a ghost. I had Questions, and they weren't really answered. How is Andre going to feel when he can't go out with Freddy in public? When he can't introduce him to friends? That kind of thing.
But to be honest, this was minor in the grand scheme of the book. It isn't often a murder mystery leaves you with a warm, happy feeling, but this was definitely one of the coziest crime novels I've read. Great fun, and totally Joe Cosentino, whose work I'm familiar with.
NB: I purchased this book from a major bookseller.
When young music teacher Andre Beaufort discovers an antique player piano in the basement of his apartment building, he is visited by the ghost of the original owner: a dapper and charismatic playboy from the Roaring Twenties, Freddy Birtwistle.
Andre has never seen a ghost and Freddy has never been one, so they get off to a rocky start. But when Andre finds his neighbor murdered on his doorstep, he and Freddy join forces to narrow the pool of suspects.
Soon Andre and Freddy discover that opposites attract, even if one’s alive and the other dead. Together these amateur detectives make an enticing team, and it’s a good thing too, because the first murder they solve together won’t be their last. But the real mystery isn’t just whodunit—it’s how a romance between a man and a ghost can have a happily ever after ending.
The Player contains two stand-alone cozy murder mysteries, The City House and The Country House.