Ukulele of Death

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Pub Date 02 May 2023 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2023

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Description

Meet Fran and Ken Stein - a private investigator duo who refuse to let a little thing like being not entirely human stop them from doing their jobs.


"Twisty and bonkers and fun" Multi award-winning author Catriona McPherson

After losing their parents when they were just babies, private investigators Fran and Ken Stein now specialize in helping adoptees find their birth parents. So when a client asks them for help finding her father, with her only clue a rare ukulele, the case is a little weird, sure, but it's nothing they can't handle.

But soon Fran and her brother are plunged into a world where nothing makes sense - and not just the fact that a very short (but very cute) NYPD detective keeps trying to take eternal singleton Fran out on dates.

All Fran wants to do is find the ukulele and collect their fee, but it's hard to keep your focus when you're stumbling over corpses and receiving messages that suggest your (dead) parents are very much alive.

Ukuleles aside, it's becoming clear that someone knows something they shouldn't - that Fran and Ken Stein weren't so much born, as built . . .

The Ukulele of Death is the first in a new series of light-hearted, paranormal tinged mysteries that are filled with off-beat humor, heart and the wry wisdom that's E.J. Copperman's signature style.

Meet Fran and Ken Stein - a private investigator duo who refuse to let a little thing like being not entirely human stop them from doing their jobs.


"Twisty and bonkers and fun" Multi award-winning...


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ISBN 9781448309702
PRICE $29.99 (USD)
PAGES 240

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Average rating from 45 members


Featured Reviews

E. J. Copperman has created quite a few interesting protagonists in his multiple mystery series, but I think the first Fran and Ken Stein Mystery has the most . . . unusual . . . main characters. Siblings Fran and Ken have their own private detective agency, and their investigative skills complement each other. They have chosen to specialize in finding clients' biological parents because they lost their own mother and father at an early age. It's also worth mentioning that both are very good-looking, very tall, and capable of physical confrontation when necessary. But what really sets them apart is that while they appear human and are definitely not robots, they had been created rather than born.

Their latest client asks them to find a very rare ukulele because she thinks it will lead to her own missing father. But the twisty case quickly involves Fran and Ken in secret identities, cryptic clues, high-stakes auctions, kidnapping, and murders. And it becomes more and more obvious that their scientist parents' research might have dangerous consequences, even years after their fatal automobile accident.

I loved the often-sarcastic, snarky voice of Fran, the appealing narrator, and her reluctance to engage in a budding romance with a local cop. Sure, the reader is called on for the willing suspension of disbelief regarding the siblings' origin, but it's an engaging story with memorable characters who will surely have more to investigate about their own family if there is a second entry in the series.

My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.

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With an orphaned brother and sister team working as a PI team who helps adoptees find their birth parents. In this inaugural entry, they’re asked to help find a father with only an instrument as the clue. They’re falling over bodies and getting messages regarding their own parents all while trying to solve the case they’re working on. It seems this one is going to be a two for, as Fran and Ken are going to learn more about their own origins as well.

I’ve been a fan of this author’s Guest House Mystery series and really missed it once it ended…but then a few more series came out and each one has been read by yours truly. This one has a great take on the name…Fran and Ken Stein (Frankenstein)…and explains why I love the humor so much. Being a Jersey gal, we have a snarky sense of humor and I love this stuff! Looking forward to seeing where this one goes with the next entry.

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I simply adore E.J. Copperman's books. The writing is always top notch and the story line and characters never fail to pull me in. This was so good!!
I just reviewed Ukulele of Death by E. J. Copperman. #UkuleleofDeath #NetGalley
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I know - not the best reason but I just couldn't resist this title because of the title!! That said "stumbling over corpses" in the blurb is a bit of an exaggeration. It involves Fran and Ken Stein who are private investigators and specialise in finding birth parents for adoptees. The fact that they "lost" their "parents" when they were very young is irrelevant honest... Someone asks them to find their father via finding a rare ukulele - weird but that's not the only weird thing about this story!

The story follows their investigation into this case and other "things that happen" while they are doing that. Fran is the narrator and I quickly came to love the style of her inner dialogues often about her brother. Ken definitely eats Kit Kats the wrong way as far as she is concerned... Their investigation becomes complicated by events which do include the odd body.

To call Fran and Ken a little unusual would be something of an understatement. They are both rather tall and quite strong. Personally I think people should find out exactly why they are different for themselves. This is not a long book but that has the advantage that the pace is quite easily sustained. I guess I wouldn't have minded a bit more narrative however it makes for a crisp story. Equally, for me, there's a rather nice ending which leaves the option for another book. If that arrives I will be as close to the front of the queue for it as I can manage.

This is laugh out loud funny at times, quite edgy at others. There is an interesting/unusual crime story and Fran and Ken's back story is good. It takes some doing to combine crime, a dash of fantasy and humour well however Mr Copperman caries it off for me. This may well appeal to fans of Caimh McDonnell's Dublin Trilogy. Slightly more obscure maybe would be the Sam Ireland Mysteries Series by Jay Stringer; neither of these have the fantasy element but the tongue in cheek crime styles have something in common to me.

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My first read of a book by this author and I really enjoyed it. When the lead characters are named Fran & Ken Stein you know things will be fun. We find out early on that these two are human but built by their parents. Amazingly things that we find weird they never questioned (they get plugged into an electrical source every few days). But from a young age they lived with their Aunt because their parents had died in a tragic car accident. So now they have a PI agency that specializes in helping people find and reunite with their birth parents. And, lo and behold they have a client who wants to find her father and the only clue is that he once owned a valuable ukulele. It is a fun book and mystery, as dead bodies keep piling up, and Fran keeps getting asked out on dinner dates by a police detective. The clues are all there for us, but the entire plot is done in such a way that it keeps you guessing until the very end. Like a said, a fun and entertaining read. And I certainly hope there will be more books featuring these characters!

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Fran and Ken Stein are sibling PI’s that specialize in finding lost parents. When a woman shows up in their office asking them to find a lost ukulele and her father, they take on the case only to have their client murdered, the ukulele lost, and their secret exposed. It turns out that Fran and Ken aren’t exactly normal but are definitely exactly what their parents made of them. They have to solve the murder, find the instrument, and keep the mysterious Voice from accomplishing his plan to kidnap Fran, all while looking for their own missing parents.

This was such a fun and silly story that I couldn’t help but love it. I was pleasantly surprised with this novel with two gigantic, Shelley inspired protagonists; it was witty, goofy, and absolutely entertaining. In a world of pretensions it is nice to find a book that is meant to be purely enjoyed and not taken apart for some deeper, hidden meaning. The first person narrative is fun and friendly, and really allows Fran’s personality to take center stage. Her interactions with her brother Ken are so well written that I swear I have had similar conversations with my own older brother. I’d love to see a subsequent book in this series written from Ken’s POV so we can get to know him better and to see just how well Fran knows him. The humorous nods to Frankenstein when the power goes out had me giggling and I am rooting for the romance between Fran and Mank. Overall this book was humorous with characters that may not be as smart as they are strong, has a fun story line, and it a quick read. Even if not terribly cerebral, this book was absolutely enjoyable.

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Oh my goodness this was brilliant! Ukulele of Death is part 50% cozy mystery, 50% science fiction and 100% a fun read! We follow Fran and Ken Stein, a sibling P.I team who were made - not born. The not quite human duo specialize in finding birth parents for clients who were adopted and are looking to reconnect. Everything changes when a client hires them to find a rare Ukulele, turning their lives completely upside down and sending them on a mission of self discovery and survival. Filled with Shelley worthy puns, murder, mystery, sleuthing and a side of romance this book is so fun and unique!

Check out Ukulele of Death hitting shelves May 2, 2023.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Setting the Scene: E. J. Copperman's new cozy mystery series Introduces Fran & Ken Stein. (Think about it.) This brother/sister duo are young, attractive, and unusually tall, with various other unique traits. Raised as orphans from a very young age by their "Aunt" Margie, the two now own a detective agency, with its own unique niche, finding birth parents for adults who were adopted. In this first-in-series, Fran and Ken are hired to find a valuable ukulele that may be the key to finding their client's birth father. However, they soon discover that nothing and no one is what they seem, and they are, in fact, faced with piecing together what a 20 year old fatal car crash, an extremely valuable missing ukulele, a murdered client; and a current fatal car crash have in common? Perhaps nothing, except Fran and Ken, themselves.

What I Thought: Mr. Copperman seems to have hit upon a creative, if somewhat bizarre, premise for his new cozy mystery series. Fran and Ken, as well as Aunt Margie, are intelligent, likeable, and quirky characters with plenty of snark and wit, especially from Fran. Their unusual circumstances create a strong bond between brother and sister, but that does not prevent plenty of sibling banter. As amusing as they are, and in spite of Ken's frat-boy tendencies, these two can take care of themselves; and neither is prone to TSTL moments. That's all very good since there is more action than normally found in cozies. The mysteries, plural, are well plotted, with plenty of red herrings and misdirection to keep things interesting, and come together nicely, for the most part. There is even a bit of a slow burn romance. While all that wit and banter can be a bit much, at times, and, yes, I had to suspend reality, here and there, I found this book refreshing and funny and look forward to more time with these characters.

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Fran and Ken Stein, the latest creations of E. J. Copperman are sibling private detectives who just happen to be manufactured humans whose parents disappeared years ago after creating them. The search for a lost ukulele that may be connected to their parents and the ensuing bodies and mysteries make for a very fun read. I certainly hope for a sequel.

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Fran and Ken Stein are sibling private investigators and specialize in finding birth parents for adoptees.
The sister and brother are not quite human but products of their scientist parents' research. Due to their
parents death in a car crash, there are many unanswered questions.
Hired to find a ukelele by a client who is convinced it will lead her to her father, the police get involved
when the client is found murdered. It is then discovered that the name she gave was false - what
was she really after? Why is their father's name popping up? Are their parents really dead? Do others
know about their origin?
Enjoyable read - look forward to Fran and Ken's next case.
#UkuleleofDeath #NetGalley

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A cozy with a new twist. Fran and Ken are siblings who are bioengineered. They are running a dectective agency that reunites birth parents with their offspring. A new twist of a cozy. Filled with humor, mystery and fun. Thanks#netgalley and #SevernHouse for the eARC in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are mine.

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Siblings Fran and Ken have an unusual backstory, they were made not born. Their scientist parents are missing, on the run and they were raised by their aunt Margie. They run a detective business together, when a client hires them to help her find her father with the one clue a Gibson ukulele it sets Fran and Ken on a journey to their own mysterious pasts and it puts them into dangerous territory. Interesting mystery, fun characters and twist on the Frankenstein story it was a great story and I can't wait to catch up with Fran, Ken and Aunt Margie again. Saying ukulele is fun.

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Fran and Ken Stein are siblings who seem like fairly normal people but like Frankenstein, they were created, not born. Now they have established a detective agency to help people find their biological parents. They are especially interested in this type of case, because they would love to find their own parents. In fact, the plot has the pair trying to find their client's father using a ukulele as a clue while following the latest leads in the case of their own missing parents. I enjoyed the plot. It had a fun mystery and interesting characters. The book is told from Fran's point of view. At times I found her voice a little over the top. Overall a fun mystery. Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy in return for my honest review.

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This is an entertaining cosy mystery where no one is who they say they are and everyone has ulterior motives.

Brother and sister, Fran and Ken Stein, run an investigation agency for people looking for their parents. This was inspired by their own desire to know more about their own parents who died in a car crash when they were young. Raised by their Aunt Margie, Fran and Ken are not ordinary human beings (just how different you’ll find out by reading the book). In addition to some unique traits, they are both very tall, good looking and strong, attracting attention wherever they go. With women throwing themselves at him, Ken puts this to good use, but Fran is more wary, fending off overly eager men and finding it hard to find a date who isn’t too short for her.

They have received an unusual request from a woman who says she is looking for her father, but rather than finding him she wants Fran and Ken to find a rare ukulele she says belonged to him which she says will allow her to trace him. And so starts a bizarre investigation into ukuleles, collectors of rare instruments, car crashes and people trying to kidnap Fran. Narrated by Fran, the plot has plenty of action, false leads and twists as well as snarky humour, particularly at the expense of her brother. The characters are likeable and intelligent and if this is the start of a new series, I’d be happy to meet them again.

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I am never disappointed by this writer. A great new series with engaging characters and a top notch whodunit.
I cannot wait to read further books in the series.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

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This is a fun and entertaining affair from EJ Copperman, with elements of the paranormal and cosiness, featuring the very large siblings of Fran and Ken Stein, with the obvious reference to the famous Mary Shelley novel. They are not quite normal humans, given they were 'made' rather than born, and every few days they must plug themselves in be charged. Whilst the extrovert Ken feels completely at home with his body size, he is a man after all, Fran is more self conscious, women as big and strong as her are rare and stand out, she is referred by a NYPD cop as Gargantua, not to mention the lack of men as tall as her, making dating problematic, although Detective Richard 'Mank' Mankiewicz has his eyes on her.

The siblings run a niche PI agency that focuses on looking for the birth parents for adopted adults, a fact that is not unrelated to the loss of their parents, gifted scientists, Olivia Grey and Brandon Wilder when they were very young, leaving them to be raised by their beloved 'Aunt' Margie. The Steins are hired by a client, Evelyn Bannister, to locate a father she has never met, of whom she knows nothing, other than he is a collector of stringed instrument, she believes it might be possible to find out who he is by looking into a rare ukulele, a Gibson Poinsettia, once owned by him. Whilst aware that their client is not exactly telling them the truth, they take on a case where little is as it appears. In the meantime, Fran and Ken's world is rocked when a car crash fatality, Dr Aziz Mansoor, who before his death left a phone message that indicates their parents are not dead.

Could there possibly be a connection with their case and their parents? In a light hearted narrative, the PIs try to figure out exactly who their client is, there is danger and syringes to avoid, a strange London auction in which a ukulele is sold for a fantastical price, the need to try to track down their elusive parents and so much more. I did enjoy reading this, but I dithered about my star rating between 3 and 4 stars as the humour did not always work for me, I made my decision on the basis that the book mostly did hold my interest. This is one for those looking something a little different in the crime and mystery genre. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

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What a strange and extraordinary mystery novel!

(to take a quote- sort of- from Little Shop of Horrors)

When the premise of the “creation” of the brother and sister in this novel was revealed early on, I was sure this wasn’t going to be the book for me. But I was wrong. Copperman has top notch story telling skills, and an amazing flair for character development. The more I read, the more intrigued I became. And what a delightful trip of twists and turns!

I think Copperman’s flair for the humor and self deprecation of the narrator was what kept me hooked. As a native New Yorker who’s spent my fair share of heat waves in the city, I felt the narrator’s voice not only enjoyable, but honest.

If you aren’t sure about the premise, I assure you it’s worth the read. Enjoy!

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Ukulele Of Death is A Fran & Ken Stein Mystery by E.J. Copperman. While brother and sister, Frannie and Ken Stein will take on almost any investigation, their specialty at F&K Stein Investigation is finding birth parents. They’re still seeking their own parents, having learned as pre-teens that they didn’t die in a car accident when they were little, so they have experience in searching.

Evelyn Bannerman wants them to find a rare ukulele, an apparently collectible Gibson Poinsettia with hand-painted artwork on the body, because she believes it will help her locate her father, a collector of rare string instruments. But before they get beyond noting that one such uke recently sold for a very large sum at Sotheby’s, their client is murdered. And it turns out that almost everything she has told them is untrue. But they’ve got her retainer in their account, and they’re intrigued.

Also intriguing is a missed call from a man who apparently knew their parents: Dr Aziz Mansoor wanted to contact them urgently but then died in a car accident. Just what he had to say will be buried with him, but if there’s any way they can learn what it was, anything to do with their parents, they will grab it with both hands.

As unusual as Ken and Frannie are (quite big, abnormally fast and strong, endowed with exceptional sensory perception, and sporting a charging port just below the left armpit), the mom and dad they are trying to track down are also far from conventional. A research scientist and a surgeon, they used their expertise to assemble first Ken and then Frannie, then left their children in the care of Aunt Margie at a young age for their safety from unscrupulous agencies.

Distracting Frannie from these matters is Detective Rich Mankiewicz who, despite their height difference and her continued resistance to the whole idea, becomes a very persistent beau. His insistence wears her down, and he turns out to be a very good kisser, but she’s not falling into his arms just yet…

Frannie tries to track down this special uke, and collectors of rare string instruments, but can’t resist searching for more clues about their parents through official adoption records. Ken’s online skills bring them a step closer, but before they learn the truth on either matter, there are abduction attempts, a narrow escape, and a dramatic rooftop climax.

Copperman gives the reader a plot with a good number of twists, red herrings, aliases and misdirection, lots of humour and quite a bit of action. His characters are appealing and there’s enough intrigue to keep the pages turning. There’s enough unresolved to allow for further instalments, and more of this cast is most definitely welcome! A very entertaining cosy mystery.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Severn House.

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What a fun read! Humor, mystery, and a dash of sci-fi combine to make a sure-fire hit.

In Ukelele of Death , author E. J. Copperman introduces us to a new crime-solving duo -- brother and sister Fran and Ken Stein.

The characters play out the true love and drive-you-crazy aspect of any sibling relationship but with a secret bond and I'm not talking about their Private Investigation business helping people find birth parents. Their names are your first clue.

I imagined Fran, as the hilarious British actress Miranda Hart, whose self-titled series forever broke the fourth wall, telling viewers how she really felt. Ken, I see as a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Howey, who started out as the goofy football player son-in-law on Reba and now, almost 20 years later, playing Schwarzenegger's role in the TV version of True Lies.

This is my first time reading Copperman, known for both his Haunted Guesthouse and Jersey Girl Legal Mystery series.

He hooked me with the very first line. Not only was I intrigued with Fran and the mystery from the onset, he introduced the rich supporting characters as the plot twisted and turned, offering satisfying chuckles all along the way.

I highly recommend Ukelele of Death to anyone looking for a new cozy series and an enjoyable, light beach read.

I received this advance reader copy from Simon & Schuster, courtesy of NetGalley. This review is fair and impartial.

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Ukulele of Death by E. J. Copperman is a contemporary mystery. After losing their parents when they were just babies, private investigators Fran and Ken Stein now specialize in helping adoptees find their birth parents. So when a client asks them for help finding her father, with her only clue a rare ukulele, the case is a little weird, sure, but it's nothing they can't handle. But soon Fran and her brother are plunged into a world where nothing makes sense - and not just the fact that a very short (but very cute) NYPD detective keeps trying to take eternal singleton Fran out on dates. All Fran wants to do is find the ukulele and collect their fee, but it's hard to keep your focus when you're stumbling over corpses and receiving messages that suggest your (dead) parents are very much alive. Ukuleles aside, it's becoming clear that someone knows something they shouldn't - that Fran and Ken Stein weren't so much born, as built.

Ukulele of Death is a mystery that is full of surprises and twists. I loved the tongue in cheek commentary by Fran through the entire book, and that even that characters I thought I had a handle on surprised me more than once. I liked the set up and slow reveal about what makes Fran and Ken so special, and found their relationship with each other and those around them to be well done and engaging. There were some great clues, and some red herrings, that kept me guessing through out the read. There was also a sense of humor and fun to the read, so that even when I was worried about Fran and what twist might be on the next page I never dreaded the danger involved in the reveal. I really enjoyed the read and will be looking for more from the author.

Ukulele of Death is an entertaining and well written mystery. I am hoping to read more about these characters.

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Ukulele of Death: A Fran and Ken Stein Mystery
By E.J. Copperman
Severn House
May 2023

Review by Cynthia Chow

K&F Stein Investigations are not your usual private detective agency. After having gotten her Master’s degree in criminal justice, Fran Stein convinced her slightly older brother to invest and join her in creating a business specializing in finding the birth parents of their clients. They are themselves orphans who barely remember the parents who were killed in a car accident, leaving them to be raised by their “aunt” Margie in New Jersey. Ken is also unusually strong – like really strong - while Fran herself towers at over six feet and is an expert in at least three forms of martial arts. Oh, and they also have USB ports in their sides that require charging every few days or they become exhausted.

That is the first hint that this is anything but your usual private detective mystery, even though it otherwise has Fran and Ken Stein (yes, sound it out) following a path to track down a rather unorthodox Maltese Falcon. Evelyn Bannister has come to them asking for help in tracking down a Gibson Poinsettia ukulele, one that she believes was once owned by her birth father. She hopes that the ukulele will lead them to clues about her father, and it’s a puzzle that Fran and Ken are unable to resist solving. That was even before learning about the auction that has the ukulele being sold for $1.2 million dollars, an absurdly overpriced amount that stirs up even more questions about Evelyn and her quest. When Fran and Ken find Evelyn done in by a candlestick and lying next to an empty ukulele case, this twisted game of Clue veers again and takes the Steins into an unexpected direction. Soon Fran finds herself kidnapped, nearly dissected, and harassed by the police, not to mention making discoveries that dismantles everything she thought she knew about her parents.

Despite the sci-fi elements, this first in the series is more detective noir in nature as the investigating duo encounter henchmen, false identities, and mysterious billionaires. Their business card being found on a doctor implicates Fran another death, an unfortunate situation that gives readers the pleasure of having her interact with an assortment of New Jersey police detectives. While one misogynistic cop definitely pushes the boundaries with his nicknaming Fran as “Gargantua,” the height-challenged Detective Richard “Mank” Mankiewicz isn’t put off by her PI status nor that she towers over him as he asks her out on dates. Their blossoming relationship is a charming surprise and adds yet another entraining element to this unique and well-crafted mystery. Expect the unexpected in this new series by a very prolific and experienced writer, who having mastered the cozy, paranormal, and amateur detective genres dips his toe into the realm of science fiction. The mystery and detective elements still dominate the novel, and readers will enjoy this reliable author’s use of witty banter, sharp pop culture observations, and twists on classic mystery tropes. The mythology about Fran and Ken’s origin is gradually introduced in such a realistic manner that readers will be looking forward to joining them as they learn more about their extraordinary and compelling creation.

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I hadn’t read the blurb on this one, so didn’t appreciate that it was a new series until I opened it up. Not that I was initially all that concerned – after all, Copperman’s previous sure-footed writing style and deft handling of the humour alongside the action in the Sandy Moss series meant I was thoroughly looking forward to this one.

However, as the story wore on, I wasn’t bonding with the main protagonist, Fran. And that was something of a problem because the story is told in first-person viewpoint. While I really enjoyed Sandy’s asides and tendency to rush into things in the Jersey Girl Legal Series – Fran’s constant snark about her brother felt less like affectionate exasperation and more like an annoyed sister who wanted her brother out of her life. There was also a great deal of telling, rather than showing. The paranormal aspect of the story didn’t really convince me, either.

The murder mystery was initially well set up, but I felt the pace did drop somewhat two-thirds through the story, when random figures show up to attack the siblings. What should have nocked the pace and tension up several notches rather fell flat. I wasn’t sure about the romantic element, as I found Fran’s dithering about whether to go on a date or not with the long-suffering Mank annoying. She’s not a teenager and I wanted her to stop behaving like one. That said, Copperman’s experience and skill shows in the smooth prose, succession of likely suspects and the steady accretion of clues such that I wasn’t ever tempted to abandon this one. For starters, I was sufficiently hooked that I really wanted to know whodunit.

The final denouement did work well – and for the first time in the story I truly believed that Fran was in real danger. I will certainly get hold of the next book – it sometimes takes a couple of books for a series to hit its stride and I know Copperman is a talented, able author. While I obtained an arc of Ukulele of Death from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
7/10

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Ukulele of Death is a highly quirky but entertaining read, amusingly combining parody-pastiche of classic American noir (think Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett and Mickey Spillane) with a modern day NYC setting and light sci-fi plotline.

New York City private detective duo Fran and Ken Stein are siblings, whose mutual fondness, irritations and rivalries infiltrate their work lives on a daily basis. However, as observant readers might glean from their names, the Steins aren't quite like the rest of us. While they both have the appearance of "normal" - albeit somewhat Amazonian - human beings, they possess heightened abilities that aid in their investigations, the downside being their need to "plug in" via USB cord to the underarm every couple of days to recharge.

Fran and Ken are engaged by Evelyn Bannister to identify and locate the mysterious father she has never known, the only clue a rare Gibson "Poinsettia" ukulele that he may once have owned. What follows is a madcap adventure through the streets of New York, two suspicious deaths, an off-street abduction and various shady characters who seem to be attempting to prevent Fran and Ken getting to the bottom of the mystery. Who really is Evelyn Bannister, what is the significance of the ukulele, and why are Fran and Ken suddenly being targeted for so much unwanted attention?

While it took me a few chapters to get my head around what was going on with Fran and Ken's bizarre origins and crazy lives, I enjoyed the humour and (deliberately) overblown drama of the story. At times the threads of the underlying mystery seemed to become quite tangled, but all was clarified by the end. Fran and Ken make unusual but lovable protagonists, with a well-developed sibling relationship and plenty of great repartee. I look forward to reading further instalments in the series.

My thanks to the author, E.J. Copperman, publisher Severn House, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.

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Fran and Ken Stein, are private investigators. They also happen to be the children of renegade scientists (currently on the run), and as such are blessed with extraordinary height, strength, abilities, and a need to physically recharge every so often.

When a job to find a rare ukulele goes bad at the same time a lead to finding their own parents turns up dead, Fran and Ken find themselves at the centre of murky plots an kidnapping attempts.

This was a fun read. In the style of hard-boiled detective, but with more than a healthy dash of dry humour, the story is told from Fran's perspective (giving us plenty of digs at her sibling) as she breaks the fourth wall and narrates a week in her life, from the ukuleke research and the supposed dates with the local police detective, to the requirements to charge and casual acknowledgements of her difference from other people. Frankenstein's monster meets Dick Tracy. (And I just now realised the Frankenstein pun!)

I did find the very end a little plot-holey, and had to go back to fill in gaps, but overall it was a rollicking tale of non-stop intrigue and humour.

~Many thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review~

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