Cover Image: Judgment at Santa Monica

Judgment at Santa Monica

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Dryly Witty Romp…
The second in the Jersey Girl Legal Mystery series and Sandy Moss is back. A fast paced, entertaining and dryly witty romp through a tangled and muddied case and another murder. Enjoyable reading for some bizarre, and often bonkers, escapism.
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Judgment at Santa Monica:  A Jersey Girl Mystery
By E.J.Copperman
Severn House
2021

Review by Cynthia Chow

When former New Jersey prosecutor Sandy Moss moved to Los Angeles to work at the high-priced family law of Seaton, Taylor, Evans and Wentworth, she never expected to be handling as many criminal cases as she would divorces.  After surviving and succeeding in a previous murder trial with actor Patrick McNabb as a very attentive client, Sandy now has her hands full attempting to prove that the LAPD is railroading uber-suburban mom Madelyn Forsyth into a prostitution conviction as the new Hollywood Madam.  On the heels of that frustrating loss descends upon her the now-even-more-famous acting star Patrick, insisting that Sandy take on a divorce case for his fellow actor/celebrity friend Cynthia Sutton.  Sandy is unable to say no to the charismatic man-child, even when the barely-divorced former-murder-suspect Patrick presents his new fiancé “real estate professional.”  Perhaps that’s why their nearly getting shot by a passing car seem relatively normal in comparison.

Things quickly escalate, as things tend to do whenever Patrick is around.  Cynthia’s divorce case becomes a homicide trial when she is found standing over her almost-ex-mother-in-law Wendy Bryan, murdered by Cynthia’s bloody TeeVee acting award (she was snubbed out of an Oscar nomination).  Assuming that his experience as a (television show) attorney and a (television show) private investigator gives him the credentials to second seat on Sandy’s court cases, Patrick insists on tracking down the culprit despite her assertions that they don’t need to catch the murderer to win the legal case.  Enabling Patrick is Angie, Sandy’s bestie from New Jersey who moved to LA to help her friend settle in and has become a bit of a moocher never left.  Now Patrick’s personal assistant/Girl Friday, Angie encourages their investigation into who framed Cynthia and wanted Wendy out of the picture.  When another shooting sends Sandy’s second chair lawyer into the hospital and the amenable Detective Lieutenant K.C. Trench suggests that she may be the target, Sandy’s life becomes further complicated with an overprotective Patrick who at least has the sense to hire a professional bodyguard.  The one thing that Sandy knows though, is that unlike what always happens in movies and TV shows, the killer will never confess in the middle of a dramatic court testimony.  Never.

This second in the series continues to be an absolute delight, bursting through with the sharp humor that is a trademark of the novels by E.J. Copperman/Jeff Cohen.  Sandy likes to think that her New Jersey background elevates her above the shallowness of the LA inhabitants, but it causes her to underestimate them as well.  A lovelorn Patrick following her around both exasperates and intrigues her, especially when he often proves to be unexpectedly helpful.  The multiple court scenes will remind readers of the hilarious trials seen in the works by Lisa Scottoline, Parnell Hall/JP Hailey, and Paul Levine.  Sharp dialogue, wry observations about the LA lifestyle, and the many red herrings and plot swerves will keep readers engaged and riveted to the very last page.  Bring on the next in this series, now!
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Stylishly written and higly entertaining whodunit set in and around the LA area and masterfully led by a feisty family lawyer hailing from New Jersey, a smart young woman that never gets overwhelmed by the whacky events that keep piling up around her and that keep threatening her sanity from the start.  

A fiendishly plotted romp with enough slapstick to keep the reader in stitches for a few hours, a cast of delightful and sympathetic characters, lots of goofy situations, weird criminal shenanigans, unexpected murder weapons and lots of Southern California clichés.

A marvellous and worthy addition to this new series full of surprises, lots of verbal pyrotechnics and much needed laughter👍
I simply can't wait for the next installment! So please go for it and enjoy it without any moderation! 

Many thanks to Netgalley and Canongate/Severn for this terrific and really whacky fictional treat!
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Fine for some escapism, particularly given the setting, but the elements didn't quite gel for me. The various cases and characters didn't fit together smoothly, instead feeling like grinding gears when I stopped to think about what was going on. At times, it felt a little too much like the author showing off wordplay to us, commenting on the story; I kept wondering if another editing pass would have been a benefit. Events happened because the formula demanded it (particularly the lead and her dating), not because there was in-story reason or I believed the character would make that choice. Too many two-dimensional people that didn't feel real.
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Another highly entertaining and well written mystery by this author, this series is becoming a favorite.
It's engrossing, fun to read, and the solid mystery kept me guessing.
I had fun and it's highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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JUDGMENT AT SANTA MONICA is the second book in E.J. Copperman’s “Jersey Girl Legal Mystery” series. Although this is the second book in the series, and only the first in the series that I’ve read, I really enjoyed this book and will have to hunt down the previous. This will appeal to mystery readers who enjoy a legal theme, but also those who just enjoy a fun cozy mystery. I’ve always thought E.J. Copperman writes female characters extraordinarily well, and he doesn’t disappoint with this series. Sandy Moss, family lawyer, is very realistically flawed and realistically fab. TV star, friend, former client, and force of nature, Patrick McNabb comes to Sandy insisting she represent his friend Cynthia, bigtime actress, in her pending divorce. She winds up representing Cynthia in a murder trial.

Sandy has two cases to sort out, Patrick’s attempts at playing amateur sleuth to manage, and figure out who’s between the multiple assassination attempts directed at her. I like Sandy having two cases at once. The reader and the characters are never sure which case is fueling the assassination attempts until almost the end. One case seems, on the surface, more straightforward but has a few twists and turns and might be more complex than originally thought. Because Cynthia’s an actress, it naturally gives Sandy a brief pause when considering how easy it would be for her to lie. Patrick and Sandy clash over whether a good defense means finding the actual murderer. In the end, that’s what happens but figuring out Cynthia’s defense and trusting her instincts is an evolution for Sandy. As much as I enjoyed the mystery in JUDGMENT AT SANTA MONICA, the characters are a hoot and contribute equally to my enjoyment of the story. The witty banter is amazeballs, and the rhythm of it is fantastic. Even with the very serious stuff that happens in this book, I laughed a few times at the characters and their antics. The dynamic between Sandy and Patrick is an unusual one, but delightful for me as a reader.

JUDGMENT AT SANTA MONICA has everything I want in a mystery – great characters, stellar storytelling, and some slapstick mixed in with gallows humor. Sandy’s BFF and roommate annoyed me throughout the book, but their sibling-like snappishness with each other mixed with support is very real and totally believable. I can’t wait to read the next installment in the “Jersey Girl Legal Mystery” series.
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This author seems to be popular and the description of the novel seemed fun, but I've found that this book isn't for me. I don't mind reading light fiction but this descended from light to trite fiction. I did not make it past the second chapter.
I would like to thank NetGallery for providing an e-copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Patrick. Sandy defended Patrick, an actor, on a murder charge and thought she'd seen the end of him.  Especially since she moved from New Jersey to LA to get away from criminal law and into family law.  No such luck.  He convinces her to take on his friend Cynthia's divorce but it's not that easy.  Once again, Sandy finds herself dealing with murder- with humor and style.  This is rollicking- it never gets too much-and entertaining.   Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  I'm eager to see what Patrick talks Sandy into next.
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Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
		Two years ago, Sandy Moss left her job as an assistant prosecutor in New Jersey to practice family law in Santa Monica. Because she was the only one in the firm who had criminal experience, however, she found herself defending movie star Patrick McNabb, who was charged with murdering his estranged wife. 
                              Patrick showed up again as she was in the process of losing a slam-dunk case defending a housewife accused of prostitution. He was so pleased with her defense in his murder charge that he brought her a new client, actress Cynthia Sutton. Cynthia was involved in a divorce dispute with her ex-husband, but before that was settled her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law was murdered. It was no secret that there was no love lost between the meddling mama and her daughter-in-law, so Cynthia was the prime suspect. She was found on the scene, the blood-covered murder weapon in her hands. She had no memory of what had happened, or so she claimed.
		Judgment at Santa Monica has a clever, twisty plot, a cast of complex and kooky characters, and the sly humor that is the hallmark for the author’s novels. Highly recommended.
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This was even better than the first one!
This book has a really interesting premise with engaging characters and a top notch mystery.  This is a must read and I look forward to reading further books in the series.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.
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Sandy Moss is settling into her career as an attorney in a family law firm in Los Angeles, having left her New Jersey prosecutor job behind. She has one murder case under her belt, but she can't shake Patrick McNabb, a popular actor who was the defendant in the aforementioned case. He's convinced himself he's in love with her, and that he can be helpful with her next case . . . because he has played a lawyer on TV. 

Sandy is defending a woman who is accused of prostitution when Patrick insists she also take on the case of Cynthia,. an actress who has been arrested for stabbing her (soon to be ex-) mother-in-law with a TeeVee Award statuette. It's up to Sandy to figure out why Cynthia couldn't possibly have been the murderer, while she and her team sort through everyone else who might have had a reason to wish the victim harm, including her son, her art gallery clients and even the police.

I wouldn't say this series qualifies as cozy, since Sandy works in law enforcement, but it is certainly "murder mystery lite."  And this is a genre in which E.J. Copperman excels. The characters and the plot are entertaining, the violence isn't graphic, and the courtroom scenes are convincing. It's a great way to spend a day, and I look forward to reading the first book in the series and future installments.

My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book and provide an honest review.
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According to the author’s note at the end of this book, “If you’ve read any E.J. Copperman or Jeff Cohen books, you are a member of my tribe…” Count me a dedicated member if that’s the case. This book is fun, it’s funny, and it contains one good mystery and one really enjoyable twist, or maybe two; but that would be telling.

This is the second book in the legal mystery series that features Sandy Moss, New Jersey lawyer who has transplanted herself to Los Angeles. While I didn’t read the first one, it’s not necessary as there are sufficient explanations of characters who appear in both books to answer any questions I might have and the mystery itself is contained entirely within the book. Based on my enjoyment of this book, and now being a recognized tribe member, I’m thinking I will need to pick up the first book in the series and give it a read in the near future.

Sandy narrates the book, and opens by explaining her activities in the courtroom on behalf of a suburban housewife who has been accused of prostitution. The outcome of the case, absurd as it is, somehow goes against Sandy, which leaves her confused, frustrated, and planning her next strategy. While this is taking place, Sandy also describes her roommate, Angie, her best friend and another New Jersey transplant, who has moved in with Sandy and is currently unemployed.  That situation leaves open the opportunity for some snarky”New Jersey” sarcasm that Sandy peppers throughout the entire book which adds to the humor and lightheartedness of the entire book.

There is a second recurring character in the book, Patrick, who is described as a Hollywood handsome leading man on television. In the previous book, Sandy apparently saved Patrick by proving not only did he not commit murder; but also she demonstratedby discovering who did. Now Patrick thinks Sandy can do no wrong and when fellow actor Cynthia is accused of murder, of course Patrick hires Sandy to resolve the situation.

There are several points revealed along the way, including: Why is Patrick paying Cynthia’s attorney fees?  What kind of job is Angie going to get? Is Patrick really in love with Sandy as he is now declaring? and Why does Emmy, Patrick’s former fiance, keep tagging along everywhere they go? If that’s not enough, there are questions like who is sending people to attack Sandy? and What does Detective Lieutenant Trench know about it all and why won’t he tell Sandy? To answer any of these questions in this review would spoil the reader’s delight at having them unfold as they read and experience it firsthand. They are here to encourage readers to get the book and find out for themselves.

The characters are well drawn and presented, even at the same time they are what one might consider “Hollywood or LA Bigger than life”. It’s easy to get wrapped up in their activities and accept the action, even if a small portion of your brain may be saying, nah...that wouldn’t really happen, would it? Regardless, you are likely to decide it doesn’t matter, you just want to pick up the book and enjoy the story.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants their mystery a little on the lighthearted side. There are times when I found myself laughing out loud even though a part of me was trying to solve the case at the same time. It was fun to invision Sandy through her self-description of a “Jersey ‘Girl” who is just over the line in terms of cheeky, just brazen enough to pull off a few less than respectful comments in court, and overall to take on anybody and any situation with a belief that she can at least handle it and, at best, beat you at your own game. Is she arrogant? No, just New Jersey smart and confident. My thanks to Canongate Severn House Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy for review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
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I received a copy of this book for an honest review. This is the second book in a new series by the author. Sandy Moss has relocated to Los Angeles to work as a family lawyer instead of a prosecutor as she was doing in New Jersey. She meets an actor in the first book, Patrick McNabb, and ends up defending him from murder charges. Patrick introduces Sandy to Cynthia, who has an interesting relationship with Patrick, to handle Cynthia's divorce. Suddenly, Andy gets a call late one night and Cynthia is accused of murder. How Sandy manages to defend Cynthia and discover the killer makes for a surprising mystery. Good characters, Good editing and an engaging and captivating plot. Really enjoyed this second installment in the series.
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I loved this book! It was cute, fun, fast and intriguing! Excited for the next installment in this series!
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Family lawyer Sandy Moss and TV star Patrick McNabb are back! After clearing Patrick of a murder charge, he's convinced that Sandy is the perfect lawyer to help his  friend Cindy with her divorce settlement. When Cindy is found at the scene of her ex-mother-in-law's murder, In addition to looking into who wanted the mother-in-law dead, Sandy is also working on a client's appeal involving a police sting. To complicate matters, it appears that someone wants Sandy dead. Of course, Patrick feels that due to his role as a lawyer, he is a qualified investigator.
Fun read with interesting characters and a surprise twist.
Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC.
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Have enjoyed every book I've read by this author. This one continues the excellence. Awesome characters in believable settings.  Lots of twists and turns.  Fast paced fun read with intrigue galore. You are going to love Sandy Moss the protagonist. Thanks #netgalley, #CanongateBooks and #SevernHouse for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
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Reads fine as a standalone!
What’s a Jersey girl doing in California?  If she’s Sandy Moss, she’s a lawyer who left the prosecutor’s office behind and headed West to practice family law.  When Hollywood golden boy Patrick McNabb asks Sandy to take on the divorce of his friend, she couldn’t say no, though she wishes she had.  

Sandy was supposed to have left murders behind in New Jersey and her she is again, wrapped up in yet another murder.  To make things worse, Patrick is playing a PI  on TV and insists that he is integral in solving the murder.  OH BOY!  

Being a Jersey Girl myself, I’ve enjoyed E.J. Copperman’s Haunted Guest House series based on the Jersey shore and had to read this one.  It’s not quite as endearing to me since it’s not based in New Jersey.  But hey, we Jersey Girls stick together and I do love the way the author writes her mysteries.  I’ll be back for more!
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