Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Read: "Retirement Homes are Murder" by Mike Befeler

Read: Retirement Homes Are Murder by Mike Befeler, 2007, 9781594145155.

I rarely read cozies. I was attracted to this one by a reviewer's comparison to the flick Memento. This was well done but not great.

Paul Jacobson wakes up in a strange room in a strange building. The room is filled with his furniture and belongings but he has no idea how he got there. He recognizes he is in Hawaii and remembers he retired there several years ago. A young lady enters and gives him some medication. She lets him know he is a new resident at a multi-story retirement building. Paul finds out his memory is faulty, he makes his way down to the breakfast room, meets a couple guys, comes upstairs, empties his garbage in the trash chute, finds a body in the chute.

Paul's memory "resets" whenever he falls asleep. He cannot remember anything from the past five years. Each new day is a total mystery to him. He begins a nightly journal and has to reread it every morning to relearn everything. He makes friends with one of his mealtime companions, Meyer, becomes a murder suspect, gets a girlfriend, gets a visit from his family from the mainland, is attacked by the murderer, eventually kidnapped by murderer and left to drown, escapes and finds the cops.

The mystery plotting was not so great but the journey of Paul is the real story. Paul is really fit for his age (about 80), his mental acuity is sharp, and he has a good sense of humor. But, his memory is crap. It's neat to see him advance from clueless to catching on. He has a few problems along the way that make you worry for his independence. If he takes a nap he has to start all over with all the confusion that comes with it.

Paul finds out that he can forestall a "reset" by having sex. Banging his girlfriend gives him a couple days reprieve but leaves him incredibly sore for a couple days as well. He is under heavy suspicion by a local cop and starts investigating the murder himself by hunting for the missing stamp collection owned by the dead guy.

Befeler does a good job showing older characters. He talks about different health problems and give a good perspective on how people have to deal with them. The aspect of making and losing friends in the retirement building is interesting - many residents don't stay very long (they die or move out). Meyer decides to go to a care facility and the girlfriend moves to the mainland to be closer to her family.

I searched the catalog and found a sequel came out this year, Living With Your Kids is Murder: a Paul Jacobsen Geezer-Lit mystery. That should be worth checking out.

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