Rating:

written off book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Have you ever awakened in an unfamiliar bed, or from a dream that was so real you can’t quite grasp where you are or what just did or did not happen? Do you remember the screwball comedies that were such fun to watch? Well, here’s one you can read!

The first few chapters of this entertaining cozy mystery will produce that same feeling, but it will get better. Trust me on that, please? As an author, I can honestly say that on several occasions, one of the characters I created came out of the book and yelled at me! It’s disconcerting, to say the least. But at least in my case, I was inadvertently trying to have that character do something that wasn’t appropriate for him or her at that time. If ever. I apologized, promised never to do that again, and from then on, we had peace and harmony. Whew!

In this case, however, author Rachel Goldman, writes cozy mysteries about a sleuth named Duffy Madison who finds missing persons. And then, one day, after having just finished the first draft of her fifth book in the series, her phone rings, and . . . it’s Duffy Madison, who begs for her help in finding a missing woman! Talk about being disoriented!

Rachel is occasionally a tad ditzy, as she wanders away from the story line, offering asides to the reader. She’s by turns bright, dim, funny, serious, brainy and downright, well, maybe not stupid, exactly, but then, come to think of it, that’s a pretty good description of most of the writers I know, including myself. We have to be, in order to create alternate realities as we do!

Duffy seems convinced that he had no existence before Rachel created him, and while he does have quite a few characteristics of his name-sake, the person known as Duffy Madison appears to have sprung full-grown out of the ether about four years ago! It’s most perplexing, especially to the police department in the (real) county that Rachel uses as his location.

In the last months, four women authors of mystery or crime novels had disappeared and then been murdered. Duffy was brought in to consult on the cases, as the women lived in four different states. As it happens, Rachel knew two of them somewhat, but had only heard about the other two. Yet, search as she and her assistant Paula might, using all the tools they’d used over the years, there doesn’t seem to be any common ground.

And then Rachel is kidnapped! Right out in plain sight, too! She could hardly be faulted, however, as what author could possibly forgo meeting a Hollywood film producer who really liked her books?

If you’ve ever wondered about being a writer, or even if you are a writer, there are lots of tips scattered throughout the book, explaining the process of writing, finding an agent, an editor or a publisher, or even a free-lance copy editor. Not to mention the value of grammar and punctuation. For a while I thought perhaps this would turn into a zany shaggy-dog story, but it didn’t quite, although there is a real battle between Rachel and the deranged copy editor, before Duffy comes to the rescue.

Not to worry. Another ‘missing person’ case presents itself, almost immediately. I can hardly wait!


First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Crooked Lane Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.