A mystery writer is flummoxed by a hero who just doesn’t know his place.
Rachel Goldman hates to revise. But when her agent, Adam Resnick, dangles a possible movie deal in front of her, she forces herself in front of the computer screen to whip her latest Duffy Madison manuscript into shape—until she gets a call from someone claiming that he’s Duffy Madison, and he needs her help finding fellow writer Julia Bledsoe, known to her fans as Sunny Maugham. Although she’s convinced the caller is a whack job, Rachel somehow ends up in his car, driving first to Sunny’s beach house in Ocean Grove and later to Sunny’s tasteful Saddle River home. Sunny is only the latest in a string of vanished mystery writers, and pretty soon Rachel gets emails suggesting that she may be next. Duffy calls in Ben Preston, investigator with the Bergen County prosecutor’s office, the guy who hires real-life Duffy to help him solve cases. (In Rachel’s books, Duffy works with Lt. Isabel Antonio of Morris County). Ben is helpful up to a point; then things get sticky. He asks Rachel out on a date. FBI Special Agent Eunice Rafferty takes the case out of Bergen County’s hands. Producer Glenn Waterman of Beverly Hills Productions asks Rachel to take a meeting. All the while Duffy, who continues to claim he’s a creation of her pen, tries to protect Rachel from danger while leaning on her for help.
Despite its quirky premise, this new series debut from Copperman (The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband, 2015, etc.) doesn’t make its fictional/real-life hero compelling enough to warrant the double dose he offers the reader.