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Don't give the newest Jake & Laura mystery The Big Brush Off

The Big Brush Off: A Jake & Laura Mystery

by Michael Murphy

Random House/Alibi

Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date: February 9, 2016


The Jake & Laura mysteries embody all that I love in a cozy - a fascinating background setting, a charming pair of amateur detectives, a clever mystery with several surprises, and little violence or swearing.

Laura and Jake are a fantastic couple. They love and respect each other, and their talents and abilities complement each other. They also put their relationship first, before material possessions or career. Laura is a successful actress known for her roles in screwball comedies. Jake is a Pinkerton detective turned writer.

At the start of The Big Brush Off, Jake learns from his agent that his current book doesn’t connect with the reader in the way his previous novels did. Material success has made him forget what his character Blackie Doyle is all about - helping people who have nowhere else to turn, making difficult decisions and always doing the right thing, even if it isn’t to his benefit. The same day he meets with his agent, he is asked to once again look into his last unsolved Pinkerton case, the murder of a teenage girl. Her mother is dying, and desperately wants to find out who killed her daughter before the end.

Jake & Laura travel to Hanover, where Jake plans to work on a new novel. Inevitably they start asking questions, seeking a killer who has gotten away with murder for over 10 years.

One thing that comes across clearly in The Big Brush Off is how detrimental not knowing the truth can be to a community. There are always suspicions, and the innocent wrongly suffer.

The Big Brush off is a terrific cozy mystery set towards the end of the Great Depression. While it is not strictly a historical, Michael Murphy pays plenty of attention to detail.


The Big Brush Off is the 4th Jake & Laura mystery. The books do not have to be read in order.

The Big Brush Off is available for preorder and will be released February 9th, 2016.

I received a copy of The Big Brush Off from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.




The irresistible Jake & Laura return in Michael Murphy's witty, fast-paced mystery series—perfect for readers of Dorothy Cannell and Christopher Fowler. In The Big Brush-off, the charming and indomitable duo heads to the Midwest to solve a chilling cold case of a young girl's murder.

Blackie Doyle is dying. That's what Jake Donovan's literary agent tells him. Sales are falling, and the rough draft of Jake's latest Blackie novel doesn't look promising. Maybe Jake has been distracted by a recent barrage of real-life homicides, or by his marriage to the beautiful up-and-coming actress Laura Wilson, now slated for a part opposite Clark Gable himself. Whatever the reason, Jake decides to return to his roots. Which is why he and Laura hop the next train to the small town in Pennsylvania where Jake once worked as a Pinkerton detective.

Ten years ago, the murder of a teenage girl interrupted life in quiet, God-fearing Hanover. The unsolved case has always gnawed at Jake, and it seems no coincidence that as soon as he starts digging up old ghosts, he's once again writing like a dervish. Nor is it surprising that some townfolk would rather see the truth stay buried—and maybe even Jake and Laura with it. But the glamorous crime-solving pair refuse to leave before sorting through a bevy of suspects—and at long last nailing the one who almost got away with the not-so-perfect crime.


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