Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger | Blog Tour with Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway

The author of Mrs Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death is back, with another Mrs Kaplan mystery!

The Blurb

Combining the classic charms of Agatha Christie with the delightful humor of M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin novels, Mark Reutlinger’s Mrs. Kaplan mystery series returns as a notorious crank meets an untimely fate.

Yom Kippur is a day of reflection and soul searching. But at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors, Vera Gold misses this opportunity to atone for her many sins when she up and dies. Indeed, Vera was such a pain in the tuchis to all those around her that when her sister claims Vera was deliberately poisoned, the tough question isn’t who would want to kill her — but who wouldn’t?

Having already solved one murder with her dear friend Ida, Rose Kaplan has a sleuthing reputation that precedes her. It’s only natural that Vera’s sister turns to Mrs. K for help. So do the police, but when her conclusions conflict with theirs, they tell her to butt out! This case has more twists than a loaf of challah. And with a homicidal scoundrel on the loose, Mrs. K has to act fast — or she might be the guest of honor at the Home’s next memorial service.

~Praise for Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death

“Is there kosher food in jail? These two heroines have gotten themselves in quite a pickle! Well, it’s a matzoh ball mess, really. Too deliciously funny!”
— Rita Mae Brown, bestselling author of Nine Lives to Die

A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger
Series: A Mrs Kaplan Mystery, #2
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Alibi  An Imprint of Random House
Publication Date: November 17, 2015
e-Book File Size: 1693 KB
e-ISBN-13: 978-0553393408

The Review

I just read a really good book, y'all — A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger. Let me tell you a little about this cozy mystery.

A Pain in the Tuchis is the second book in Author Mark Reutlinger's Mrs Kaplan Mystery series. It is a wonderful sequel to Mrs Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death, to which I also gave four stars. (Oy, with a title like  that, how can it not be good.)

I like Reutlinger's writing style. He includes Yiddish words and phrases, but also their definitions, so there's no confusion for the reader. A Pain in the Tuchis is fast-paced, and hard to put down. I finished it in two days.  

The main characters are Mrs Rose Kaplan and her best friend Mrs Ida Berkowitz. Ida is the narrator of the book. The co-stars are the pain in the tuchis the soon-to-be-deceased Mrs Vera Gold, her son Daniel Gold, her sister Mrs Frances (Fannie) Kleinberg, and the policemen Corcoran and Jenkins. All of the characters are realistic, three-dimensional, distinctive, and very likable (except the pain in the tuchis). 

A Pain in the Tuchis is set at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors, but the main characters Rose and Ida don't let their age hold them back from doing what they want or need to do. They're in their seventies, and still take daily walks in the neighborhood, weather permitting.

Mrs K is a great fan of mystery books, and of Sherlock Holmes books in particular. Because of the events described by Ida in Mrs Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death, Mrs K is now known, among the residents of the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors, as a crime-solver, like Sherlock Holmes. She is thrilled  when Corcoran and Jenkins come to see her and Ida, at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors, to ask for her help with their investigation. 
Being asked by Inspector Corcoran to suggest who had a motive to kill Vera meant she was playing a role in the investigation, almost an official role. Her Sherlock Holmes instincts — as I said, she is a great fan of his — were waking up.
It is a treat to read about Rose and Ida as they sleuth — making a list of suspects, working out the motives and opportunities — always keeping in mind WWSD (What would Sherlock do?).
Mrs K and I looked at each other in silence for a minute. Then she said, "Ida, as Mr Sherlock Holmes would say, 'the game, it is afoot.' "
I don't know about her feet, but it was pretty clear that all Mrs K needed now was Mr Holmes's funny hat and the fancy pipe.
There are other treats in the book, as well, aside from the sleuthing. I adored the part when Rose and Ida go to a new restaurant during its grand opening. And I really got a kick out of Ida and the motorcycle. (Oy, what a mental picture I have of that.)  

I recommend A Pain in the Tuchis to all fans of cozy mysteries. I think it will especially appeal to those fans who have or had loved ones in Senior Homes, and to fans who themselves reside in Senior Homes. I really enjoyed A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger, and grant it Four Kitties!

Four out of five kitties
 Note:  I received a complimentary copy of A Pain in the Tuchis in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Click here, to read other reviews and Author Guest Posts, plus Author Interviews! 

The Guest Post

Where I Get My Ideas for Stories

Novelists are often asked where they get the ideas for their stories. Like most writers, I get my story ideas from life: from the world around me and from my experiences and those of others. (If I wrote fantasy novels, it might be different, although even then I would probably be putting real-life situations into imaginary settings.) The more interesting question, I think, is how my experiences find their way into my stories. The answer is not quite as simple. Three examples illustrate my point:

Many years ago, I wrote my first novel. Or rather, I attempted to write it. Although I ended up with what looked like a manuscript, neatly typed out (this was before personal computers were common), in fact it was not worth the postage it would have taken to send it to an agent. The reason was that I had followed the advice I had received from several sources: “Write what you know. Write about the world you’re familiar with, which lends authenticity to your story.” I could draw on my personal knowledge for the plot, the setting, and the characters. So I began with what I knew, my profession and one of my hobbies, and came up with a story to fit, in which the protagonist was a law professor and the principal action took place on a tennis court. It was filled with references to law school and interesting facts about tennis.

It was a disaster.

Fast forward a couple of decades. I was inspired to write my first published novel, Made in China, when my wife and I built our present house. We tried valiantly to use as many American-made products as we could, but at almost every turn we were stymied. Although we did manage to find and use a few such products, almost everything we found was made in China. I began to wonder what would happen if all of those Chinese products suddenly disappeared, perhaps cut off by a hostile Chinese government? How would we supply our needs with our industrial infrastructure virtually abandoned? I began to think about that question more and more, until it occurred to me that there was a story there — one in which I could decide for myself what the outcome would be. Of course, I knew little or nothing about manufacturing or about Chinese politics, both of which would have to feature prominently in the story, so I researched the facts I would need, plunged into the plot, and the result is a political thriller that answers (for me, at least) the question I had asked myself. (I even stole from my abortive first manuscript the only chapter that really worked and snuck it into the new novel. I was quite pleased.)

Made in China is a successful novel. And yet it has little or nothing to do with my personal experience or knowledge base. I was not writing about anything I already knew, but I was writing about something about which I felt strongly. So I changed my mantra from WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW to WRITE WHAT YOU FEEL.

On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt to write a story that combines what you already know with what you feel. In my latest novel, Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death, many of the characters are modeled on people I know or have encountered. The setting, a retirement home, is one with which I am familiar, as my and my wife’s parents spent considerable time in such facilities. The genesis of Mrs. Kaplan was much more mundane than the world-threatening prospect of economic war with China: I was at a seder celebrating Passover with friends and family, and someone made a joke about a person drowning in their matzoh ball soup. (I wish I could remember the punch line, but again the memory is vague.) For some reason that image — a little old lady falling face-down into her soup and drowning — stuck with me. I thought it would make the center of a nifty murder mystery plot, and I felt strongly that someone really ought to write it. That someone turned out to be me, not because I was familiar with retirement homes and the people in them, but because it was a story I really wanted to write. My familiarity merely gave me a head start. Thus I was able to combine what I knew with what I felt. 

You will have to be the judge of the result.

The Author

About Mark Reutlinger

Mark Reutlinger is the author of the novels Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death and Made in China. A professor of law emeritus at Seattle University, Reutlinger was born in San Francisco, graduated from UC Berkeley, and now lives with his wife, Analee, in University Place, Washington.

Find Mark on the web at

The Giveaway

Mark will award an e-copy of
Mrs Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death 
and Marty Wingate's The Rhyme of the Magpie
to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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