Review Detail

The Player's Encore, by Joe Cosentino
Books EW Elaine White March 13, 2021 512
Rip-Roaring Cosy Mystery!
 POV: 1st person, one character POV

 Book 2 in the Player Piano Mystery series takes us on vacation! Combining two stories – The Beach House and The Villa; with the same main characters – blending humour, romance and a rip-roaring murder mystery sprinkled with old 1920s humour.
 There are a dozen characters in the book, but the central and recurring characters are: Andre and his ghost Freddy, who appear in both stories within the book, which take place 1 year apart.

 The Beach House visits Andre and Freddy a year after the events of Book 1, and gives a quick rundown of how the characters from that book have progressed since then, such as their relationships. I loved the quirky characters, the budding romances and friendships that came together throughout both stories. I especially loved the exploration of Freddy's family and how it didn't feel convenient or silly to have his family own so many properties. After all, he was the son of a rich railroad magnate and that kind of stuff was really common in those days.
 For me, I loved the times when Freddy and Andre were investigating together. I also loved that Andre was asked to participate in a care alongside the detective. It gave a different spin on his sleuthing and added a new element that made it stand out. I absolutely loved his Uncle Darryl, and how Joe explored the delicate relationship between being gay and holding onto your faith.

 For a book of 200+ pages, I actually didn't feel like it was that long. Even dividing that into an equal halfway split between the two mini-stories, that's still 100 pages each, and it was so easy to read, so fun and light that I never felt like it was a slog to get through it, even though my concentration hasn't been that great lately. It was a relaxing read – fun, light and familiar – while also having those classic whodunit clues littered throughout the story so I didn't have to overtax myself in trying to work out who did it. And, while I didn't always know who did, that didn't make it any less enjoyable to play with the clues and the suspects, wondering who did what and why.

 If I had any niggles, it would be that I want Freddy to have more page-time, and the religious speeches got a little repetitive, considering there were two stories in one book, but it wasn't anything that didn't need to be said. I felt the pacing was a little fast. I liked the pacing of Book 1 a little better, because we got time to learn about our surroundings and the secondary characters before the murder happened. In Book 2, each story sort of jumps into the murder without that, and you learn about the characters on the way. But, this is a tiny niggle. Kind of like comparing a two-hour Miss Marple or Poirot to a one-hour Murder, She Wrote. In the end, it's always going to be good, I just wish it lasted a little longer.
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