The Big Brush-Off by Michael Murphy #Review

Posted March 19, 2016 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 15 Comments

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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Big Brush-Off by Michael Murphy #Review
The Big Brush-Off

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: #4 Jake & Laura
Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense
Released on February 9, 2016
Pages: 237
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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I am so grateful to have this book pointed out to me or I might not have encountered this delightful historical mystery series involving the colorful and brilliant detecting pair, Jake and Laura.  The author drew me in to their mid-1930’s era world where this newly married pair brush shoulders with iconic historical figures of the time in their respective roles of best-selling writer and movie starlet making them even more exciting mystery solvers.  Hard-boiled detective fiction meets cheeky romantic comedy in this superbly written series.

This was book four, but I had no trouble diving into this latest of Jake & Laura’s adventures into detection.  My only disappointment was having only just discovered them, but that can be fixed when I go back for the earlier books that cover the beginnings of their pairing as a couple and a detecting pair.

The story opens with Jake and Laura in NYC city while she is between films and Jake must meet his editor over his lack-luster start to the latest Blackie Doyle book.  They are also there to rest and see old friends.  Jake loves his wife and is so very proud and supportive of her as an actress who has achieved success, but he also is struggling balancing supporting her career while doing well at his own.  His writing has suffered and now he is on the verge of losing his contract if he can’t reconnect with his character and the world of his book.  He is given an ultimatum from his editor.

Besides, Jake’s need to focus on the latest book, he is approached by people from his past.  His last case as a Pinkerton detective weighs heavily on him because he had to walk away to take care of his dying dad.  The case was handed over to others, but remains unsolved ten years later.  Laura knows him so well and determines that they will head to small-town Hanover, PA for Jake to write his book with less distractions and she can poke about to see what might turn up in the unsolved murder.  Jake knows better than to tell Laura not to look into the young girl’s murder and finds that his attention is divided between his book and the case.

I enjoyed this slow burn mystery that had a broader focus than a detective solving a murder.  There is the ongoing story of Jake and Laura’s relationship as they figure out how to find balance in their life together, reconciling the past, and immersing in the story surrounding the mystery.  It was neat that Jake’s writing of the Blackie Doyle hard-boiled detective stories wasn’t just brushed over and that Laura’s career situation had some limelight, too.  They banter and are a charismatic pair.  Loved Jake as the narrator and how he saw the world around him including his witty and beautiful wife.

Time was taken to introduce the old case when the young girl Katie was killed, the players that are all still around, and the setting.  The small-town characters were well-drawn.  I particularly enjoyed the dynamics of life at the inn where Jake and Laura stayed.  Freddie the son of the proprietor was a hoot.

The mystery itself was a cozy one compared to others in the series since it’s a cold case one.  I found myself guessing at the solution until near the end.  I enjoy it when I am kept baffled like that.

As to the time period, the authentic feel of setting, society, dialogue, and the fun inclusion of known figures was a definite plus.

All in all, this was an abso-fab introduction for me to a new series to love.  I have already added the whole series to my list and look forward to finding time catching up on Jake and Laura from the beginning.  I recommend this series to those who enjoy historical mysteries, but particularly those who enjoy following along with a charming, romantic detective team to solve them.

My thanks to Random House for providing the book in exchange for my honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #78 RS
Literary Pickers #76 tablecloth
New to Me #32 author/series

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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6 years ago

There are so many series out there like this that i want to try. It’s great that you love this enough to read the previous books. Great review!

Sophia Rose
6 years ago
Reply to  Lekeisha

That is the depressing part. So many good books out there that I know I’m missing some.

6 years ago

That gun looks new…era wise

Sophia Rose
6 years ago
Reply to  Blodeuedd

Oh, good catch. It sure does. I guess they were probably still using those huge pistol style with the cylinder ones.

Braine TS
6 years ago

Thanks for the rec, I love historical mysteries so I’ll definitely stalk this on Amazon

Sophia Rose
6 years ago
Reply to  Braine TS

You’re welcome! I was glad to have this one land in my lap so I’d find out about it.

Anna@herding cats&burning soup

Well that sounds like a really great find, Sophia! Yay for it working without the others first too!

Sophia Rose
6 years ago

I know. It was one of those ‘you liked such and such so we thought you might like to try…’ and yes, I was happy to sample. 🙂 I got lucky again that I was able to read it out of order. I do want to go back for their earlier cases and how they got together.

Mary Kirkland
6 years ago

That’s sounds like a good one to read. And if I hadn’t said it before, I like the new look of the blog.

Sophia Rose
6 years ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

It was a fun read, Mary. I love all the old black and white tv, movie, and old radio show detectives so this was fun.

It is looking snazzy. Shari’s still busy working her magic so there will be more remaking to come.

Carole's Random Life
6 years ago

I haven’t heard of this series before but it sounds great. I love books with great banter and the setting of this book sounds wonderful. I will have to try to pick this one up. Great review!

Sophia Rose
6 years ago

I hadn’t either, but I enjoyed it from the start. I definitely want to go back and get the earlier stories.
Thanks, Carole!

6 years ago

Oh this sounds like a fun series and I love the Pinkerton detectives. Is this set in the 1920’s? Trying to place the cover era.

Sophia Rose
6 years ago

I think the 30’s, but don’t hold me to it. The stock market had already crashed, but no WWII yet.

6 years ago

There are so many series out there like this that i want to try. It’s great that you love this enough to read the previous books. Great review!