Friday, June 8, 2012

Forgotten Book Friday: AS DOG IS MY WITNESS by Jeffrey Cohen

It's Forgotten Book Friday, a weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at her blog, PATTINASE. So don't forget to link over there and check out what other Forgotten Books, other bloggers will be talking about today. 

My entry for this week is a book I am particularly fond of, AS DOG IS MY WITNESS by Jeffrey Cohen, a New Jersey writer of humorous mysteries who definitely deserves to be better known and appreciated. It is the third book in the series.

Aaron Tucker is a freelance magazine writer(and author of various and sundry screenplays) and stay at home dad. He is short and insecure. His wife Abby is a lawyer with a successful career, they are the parents of Ethan and Leah and the owners of a dog named Warren. Aaron's son has Asperger Syndrome ( a form of autism) and his daughter doesn't. In many ways they are a typical New.Jersey family and in other ways they are not. For instance, it isn't every freelance writer who gets asked to investigate a murder.

In this case, it's Lori Shery, doing the asking, a friend Aaron can't deny, Lori's the president and founder of Aspen, a local Asperger Syndrome organization. A 22 year old named Justin Fowler has been arrested for murder and the fact that he has Asperger's isn't helping his defense any. Neither is the fact that he has confessed and that the murder weapon was found in his room.

Another fact hindering efforts to help Justin is the week long visit of Aaron's obnoxious in-laws. But since Aaron adores his wife, he puts up with the inconvenience of her relatives.

...Abby flung the door open, and allowed the Angel of Death - pardon me, her brother Howard - into our home.

I'm pretty sure it was a complete coincidence that a gust of wind blew into the house and the lights in the living room flickered.

I stood slowly, since I was deep into comfort food at the time, and put on my most diplomatic face to confront my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew-in-law. Dylan, who had clearly signed a pact with Satan, was tall and thin, handsome like his father...and bore the confident smile of someone who always, aways got what he wanted. I offered a hand to Howard, who is the least Jewish Jew I've ever met, and he took it. He smiled, exposing exactly the right number of teeth. I considered knocking some of them out, but was unsure whether I could reach the uppers without a step-stool.

"How's it going, Howard?" See how diplomatic I was being? Keep that in mind if I call you as a witness.

Despite the temporary day-to-day drama at home, Aaron has a job to do. He begins his murder investigation in a hit or miss fashion, his usual style and of course, murder usually brings unintended consequences. The investigation takes all sorts of unexpected detours.

Some of my favorite scenes in the book are the incidents at night while Aaron is out walking Warren, his little dog. Thinking he (and Warren) are about to be mugged by three (very) huge guys, Aaron stands his ground. Turns out Big, Bigger and Biggest (as Aaron comes to know them) are working for the local godfather, Mr. Shapiro, and have been sent to act as ex-officio bodyguards. That's all they know, at least, that's all they tell a discomfited Aaron who doesn't quite believe he isn't in danger from B.B. & B. Not to mention, his boss.

...Appropriately braced for the cold, Warren (who was, after all, wearing fur) and I headed outside. 

It was something of a surprise to see Big, Bigger and Biggest at strategic positions outside the house, in identical parkas and sunglasses. They looked like the Yukon secret service. 

"What's up, boys?" I said, "Mensa meeting just break up?"

"Mr. Shapiro wants us to watch you," Big said.

"Watch me do what? I'm walking the dog."

I walked down the front steps to the sidewalk as Bigger said, "He wants us to protect you."

"Protect me? Protect me from what? I thought the only person I had to be worried about was him."

Big shook his head slightly. "Need-to-know basis," he said.

That startled me. "Don't I need to know?" I said.

"No," Bigger said. Apparently, they were trading off the speaking parts today.

"Who needs to know more than me?"

"Mr. Shapiro," Big said. "And us, so we can protect you."

I figured it was better to have guys like this on your side than against you, so I shrugged. "Okay, then," I said. "Let's go. Warren's not going to wait all day."

.....The Supersized Trio created a perimeter, with Biggest in front, then Big and Bigger behind me and he dog. 

....My wife's going to start asking if you'll be outside whenever I open the door," I said. "She got through law school, you know. She might be able to figure out you're not three Christmas trees."

"You'll never even know we're there," Big said.

"I don't like to destroy your illusions," I told him," but when I walked out the door and the three of you were standing there with your hands in your pockets and your car in my driveway, I knew you were there."

"We wanted you to know we were there today," Bigger explained. "From now on, you won't know."

"From now on? How long are you guys going to be following me around?"

Warren stopped to take care of his business, and we stood for a while, four grown men trying not to look at a dog's butt. "Until Mr. Shapiro tells us to stop," Big said.

'There are some writers who get so little attention there ought to be a law against it. Despite the preposterous doings and [Jeffrey] Cohen's wicked talent for laugh-out-loud dialogue, the heart of the book is a gentle one. Aaron Tucker and his family and friends are characters you will want to visit with again and again.'

Mystery Ink (Actually, I'm quoting myself since I wrote about this book a few years ago for Mystery Ink.)

P.S. Why is there a dalmatian on the cover? Well, it's the murder victim's dalmatian.
To see a complete list of Jeffrey Cohen's books, please use this link.


  1. Yvette that was so funny, the dialogue is superb. When some one says laugh out loud ,I usually cringe but this was wicked. Loved it. AS DOG IS MY WITNESS. Written it down so I shall remember it. Its the way I have to do things these days. lol

  2. Another completely new author for me Yvette - but sounds like great fun (I can feel the TBR pile starting to really groan). Me and the TBR thank you ...


  3. You're welcome, Sergio. I'm not sure if Jeffrey Cohen's humor translates, but he's definitely worth a look.

    I should have mentioned that this is the second of three Aaron Tucker books.

  4. Dave, I'm glad you had a giggle. Jeff's such a funny writer. :)

    You'll noticed that Biggest doesn't speak. That is, until the very end and when he does it's a big surprise.

  5. Oh if you're in a laughing mood, I do recommend Jeff's books. They're good mysteries too. :)

  6. I'll have to look this one up. My oldest child has Asperger's. She's very high-functioning, is in college, etc., but she still has trouble understanding abstract concepts, idioms, etc.

  7. Jeff's son also has Asperger's (he's in college) and Jeff's written a couple of books about autism, Deb.

    So he's well versed on the subject.

    This is a terrific series. I wish there were more books featuring Aaron. But check out the fantastic fiction link for the list.


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