“Book Review: Dead Men Don’t Get Married”
Reviewed by Steph Huddleston
A delightful murder mystery with a private eye unlike any other
Probe-wielding, yoga-loving, turtle-owning Arnie is an orthodontist stuck between his feelings and doing the right thing. That’s how he finds himself attending his ex’s wedding with his receptionist Tanya. When the groom turns up dead, Arnie is beseeched by the bride (and his former lover) to help uncover the truth of what happened to Mickey. As Arnie investigates, it becomes clear that someone is targeting orthodontists, and the case is suddenly more complex than one just dead groom.
From the outset, Dead Men Don’t Get Married offers comedic entertainment. This is largely due to the main character Arnie’s acerbic wit when describing the world around him, like his fellow characters: “How to describe him? The word ‘ginormous’ comes to mind. He looked like he spent eighty hours a week in the gym, bench-pressing Toyotas, and the rest of the time eating fried chicken by the bucket.”
The comedic value in Dead Men Don’t Get Married stems not just from the comedic descriptions, but by the eccentricities of the plot and characters themselves. Shrott twists the image of the private investigator by incorporating into the story the dentistry profession, typically not featured in murder mysteries. This lends itself well to a number of amusing moments throughout the novel. The endless complaints of overfilled waiting rooms to the use of dental tools as weapons combine for a deeply amusing reading experience.
Throughout the descriptions in Dead Men Don’t Get Married, Shrott regularly uses comparison as a tool for characterization. By using well-known quantities, such as the height of Shaq or the weight of a Toyota, Shrott assists readers in seeing these characters in relation to the world they know. This lends otherwise eccentric characters a level of believability as they move through the plot. These rare moments take on an almost Gladwellian level of insight into characters because of their appearance and actions in the world.
“Most actors’ lives were spent trying to become big stars, but tragically ending up like this guy – pulling clippings out of their pocket trying to impress strangers who had other things on their mind.”
The ultimate resolution to the book is satisfactory, though not altogether surprising. Fans of the cozy mystery genre who are looking for a detective with plenty of eccentricities and wit need not look any further than Dead Men Don’t Get Married.
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press
Paperback: 272 pages
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