the question of the missing head – ej copperman & jeff cohen

The Question Of The Missing Head

I received a free review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Samuel Hoenig has set up his own business where he answers questions for a living. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill ‘detective’ agency – Samuel has Aspergers and is therefore adamant that he is not a detective but a ‘question answerer’. This means that his cases have to be presented to him in a certain way.

He hasn’t been running his new business long, but a previous client has already recommended him to a friend, which brings him ‘The Question Of The Missing Head’ from the Garden State Cryogenics Centre.

In attempting to answer the question, Samuel becomes embroiled in a murder investigation, along with his newly appointed assistant Ms Washburn.

Samuel’s Aspergers means that he is able to get to the root of the problem, and ask the questions of the people involved that may be harder for others to tackle – but will his distinct difficulty in dealing with certain social situations mean that he gets removed from the case before he has solved it? Will he be able to help solve the murder at the same time?

Obviously, you can’t read this book without comparing it to The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time or, more recently Smart. However, this book is set in New Jersey and Samuel isn’t a child – he’s in his mid-20s I believe.

There’s something of a young Monk about him – and I love that programme, so it’s probably no surprise that I loved this book too. It’s charming, as is Samuel as we get to see inside his head, and the way that it works – not just witness what comes out of his mouth. And Samuel has been taught well by his mum – he understands that there are certain things that ‘aren’t socially acceptable’, even if he doesn’t understand why. And he is also aware that there are certain nuances in language and behaviour that he is particularly likely to miss – which is why he sees Ms Washburn as being an asset to his previous ‘team’ of one.

A lovely light detective romp with an endearing character – I hope that we will see more of Samuel in the future.

The Question Of The Missing Head by EJ Copperman & Jeff Cohen will be published on 8th October 2014.

smart – kim slater


I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Kieran lives with his mum, her boyfriend Tony and Tony’s son Ryan. Kieran doesn’t like Tony and Ryan because they hit him and call him names. He wishes that he could get his mum away from them, so it would be just the two of them again – and maybe his nan, who fell out with his mum over Tony.

Kieran is probably around 11/12 and autistic. He finds it really hard to fit in and deal with everyday life, but he can draw like an artist – and his favourite artist is Lowry. He also like detective stories, so when he spots a body in the canal (a homeless man called Colin), he gets to detecting, to try to find out who murdered him. Colin’s friend ‘mad’ Jean is positive he’s been murdered, but the police wont listen. So Kieran uses his attention for detail and superb drawing skills to try to solve the case himself.

You can’t read this book without comparing it to The Curious Incident…but I tried hard to. It’s a completely different approach to the subject – for starters, Colin is an actual person, not a dog. And Kieran is that much younger than Christopher, which gives the whole story another level of naivety about it.

Kieran’s view on the world is simplistic, which means that he makes a great detective as he takes things on face value. His exemplary drawing skills can also convey so much more than the words that it would take him to explain the picture.  There’s some great Lowry factoids thrown in, just to tempt you to re-visit his paintings (so if this was written as a marketing ploy on behalf of Lowry’s estate, it’s worked!) 😉

He’s a great character, and his voice turns everyone around him into a great, obvious character. I know that the book is aimed at children / young adults, but sometimes it’s refreshing to read such an ‘easy’ book. Not that there weren’t thought-provoking elements. As a reader, you are still required to think behind some of the character’s actions, as Kieran doesn’t register some of the ‘social behaviour’ that would be obvious to most.

My 14 year old daughter has only just started it, but she’s loving it already, and she has no prior knowledge of The Curious Incident, so it will be interesting to hear her take on it.

And finally – just look at that cover, isn’t it wonderful? I know you should never judge a book blah blah blah, but I have to say that it was definitely a fact that swayed my desire to read it!

Smart by Kim Slater will be published on 5th June 2014.

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