Have you read For Whom the SUV Rolls and Farewell to Legs?

Those two titles may remind you slightly of a couple of books by some guy named Hemingway, who was famous mostly for his many six-toed cats. Actually, however, I cheated slightly: the first title is really For Whom the Minivan Rolls. (As the book was written 20 years ago, we at Learning Strategies Central have updated the title above.) The second book really is called Farewell to Legs.

Neither has anything to do with Hemingway. Nor with cats that have extra toes. (Flicka, however, does have extra toes. But she’s down in the dining room, not in the title to this post.) Are you confused yet?

Back to reality, as Jamie’s music would say: You may recall that I wrote about author Jeffrey Cohen a couple of months ago. That was a review of a novel published under his E.J. Copperman nom. This time, as you can see from both cover images, he used his real name. At least I think Jeffrey Cohen is his real name; it’s hard to tell. There are a lot of Jeffrey Cohens in the world. Not so many E.J. Coppermans, I expect. Or should it be Coppermen?

Both of these novels are mysteries. In particular, I suppose, they’re technically cozies, not that I’m an expert on cozies. But we’re talking amateur detective, humor, domestic scenes, almost no on-screen violence…hence cozy.

These are the first two books in the Aaron Tucker series. I love the humor (YMMV), and the mystery is suitably mystifying in each case, but my major reaction is that when reading each book I am immediately immersed in a world where I feel that I know these people. Descriptions and conversations all feel genuine to me, like I’m right at home among Jewish friends and relatives in suburban New Jersey. That might not match your own experience, of course, particularly if you don’t have Jewish friends and relatives in suburban New Jersey.

Cohen is clearly a firm believer in the “write what you know” school—well, at least partially. The New Jersey locales exemplify what he knows, and protagonist Tucker’s son has Asperger’s, matching Cohen’s own son who has Asperger’s IRL. (Yes, yes, I know that that diagnosis is no longer used. But these books take place two decades ago. Today we would say “on the spectrum.”) Otherwise this author takes pains to make the standard disclaimer about each character being a composite, but he describes them so realistically that he was flooded with emails from erstwhile friends who had read book #1, asking whether such-and-such fictional character was actually real-life character so-and-so. Usually, of course, they wanted to know “Is that me you were writing about?” But the answer was always no, as Cohen insists that they are all composites. Maybe so.

I particularly liked the description of the aforementioned son who is on the spectrum, as it resonates so well with possible descriptions of some of the students I’ve taught.

Anyway, read both of these books—preferably in order—and get some relief from a bit of the anxiety that you are no doubt experiencing.

Categories: Books