Books by Toni Brill

DATE WITH A PLUMMETING PUBLISHER by Toni Brill
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 19, 1993

A second appearance for Brooklyn's Midge Cohen (Date with a Dead Doctor, 1991)—a 30-ish, divorced, struggling children's-book author, who's fluent in Russian and whose matchmaking mother Pearl is a dental receptionist. It's through Pearl that Midge finds herself at a dinner meeting with Simon Brent-Waterhouse, owner of Sirin Press, longtime publisher of works by dissident Russians. Also present are recently arrived sexpot Polina Volkova; Peter O'Connell, head of Russian studies at Queens College; and Victor Pedlar, agent for a book by Polina that promises assorted scandals about Russian VIPs, past and present. Rights to the book—ceded, on paper, by Polina to Simon years before—provide the focus for the meeting, which ends inconclusively, leaving Midge with lots of unanswered questions. Simon's apparent suicide later that night fires an unbelieving Midge into further exploration of the dinner guests—their hidden motives and muddled lives. Midge's frenetic crusade, though, makes no more sense than the plotting or subplotting of this chaotic story—which eventually renders charmless even its initially engaging heroine. Read full book review >
DATE WITH A DEAD DOCTOR by Toni Brill
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 18, 1991

Thirty something Midge Cohen-newly divorced; ex-teacher of Russian; writer of teen-age mysteries, makes her debut in this mildly engaging first novel. Midge lives in a Brooklyn apartment will to her by Aunt Dora. He widowed mother Pearl, receptionist in a dentist's office, is a tireless matchmaker for her reluctant daughter, often trying to set her up with eligible patients. One of these is unappetizing Dr. Leon Skripnik who arrives with a twenty page letter from a new found Russian relative that he wants translated pronto. A day later Skripnik's found dead in his Manhattan brownstone and busybody Midge is soon knew-deep in his affairs-homely ex-wife Phyllis; teen-aged son; a pair of villainous Russian con artists; a huge painting, purportedly by Chagall, and a handsome Italian cop. There's still more, in a frantically plotted story whose heroine's narrative style echoes stand-up comedy. A warm, observant, breezy talent is evident here. More lucidity and less shtick could produce a better second outing. Read full book review >