☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars☆➹⁀☆☆
What it’s about:
Just in case trying to locate his boss’s missing daughter wasn’t stressful enough, Edwin Burrows, CPA, gets called into his boss’s boss’s office; one of the firm’s clients is suspected of being blackmailed, a suspicion that becomes more realistic when a school bus is hijacked with fifty-four students on board.
Once the kidnappers demand $50,000 per student, the pressure rises for Edwin to uncover who, in the client’s life, could be making such crazy demands. Each piece of information not only leads Edwin closer to solving the puzzle of the hijacked students, but edges him closer to rescuing them.
Harvey Church’s second installment of the Edwin Burrows Mystery Series, Blackmail Broker, is just as entertaining as his first book, Alibi Aficionado. Mr. Church’s writing style is wryly humorous as well as descriptive. His unique characters are quirky and somewhat caricatures of the worst attributes of the generic people in anyone’s life—the demanding boss, the clueless friend who gets in the way of your love life, the love interest who is not as interested as you are.
I love Edwin. The character has a bit of confidence that is tamped down by his somewhat self-depreciating sense of humor. He’s not a lovable loser, but he does struggle to get things right. This dull accountant is good at piecing together the financial audit trail, but not so well with women. He ogles women with Rachel glued to his side, and all the while loving Sera.
The women in Edwin’s life leave a bit to be desired. Rachel is a great sidekick and foil to Edwin while he in on assignment, but she is too self-centered, flighty, and too much the boss’ daughter to ever be a true love interest. Naturally, that doesn’t stop Sera from feeling threatened by her. She seems like an independent confident woman, but Sera too easily questions Edwin’s relationship with Rachel instead of trusting in his actions and proclamations to her. It doesn’t help that Rachel goes out of her way to not be supportive of Edwin’s attempts to win Sera’s heart. She has uncanny timing when it comes to barging in on Edwin and Sera’s dates!
Since an accountant instead of the police solves the mysteries, Mr. Church’s whodunit can be classified as a cozy mystery. Edwin and Rachel’s dissection of the case is interesting, but it is really the charm of awkward Edwin that draws in readers. His detailed fascination with the daily debits and credits of his clients’ lives made me chuckle because those boring details not only lead Edwin to the kidnapper but also make him adorable.
Blackmail Broker is a standalone novel, but it will be more appreciated if you read book one first in order to fully appreciate the characters and their relationships.
About the author: Harvey Church wrote Alibi Aficionado, his debut novel. His background is in finance, which is why he finds himself writing about the people and ridiculousness (sometimes the same thing) of that field.
For fun, Harv likes to practice street magic and spends hours engineering tricks to wow his audiences. He is also an avid hockey fan (Go Leafs Go) and returned to the sport himself after a twenty-five-year hiatus as a way to reconnect with the demons of his youth. In fact, as he writes this, he is recovering from that morning’s hockey game and can barely raise his arms…at all.
Also for fun, Harv lives in a four-bedroom home in Canada. He has a wife (incredible) and two kids (depends on the day, but they’re normally incredible too). His favorite color is blue, but he drives a black car because he read somewhere, back in the 90’s, that radar detectors have a tough time seeing them. Interestingly, he never speeds because he’s too busy singing like nobody’s watching. He dances according to the same rule and is never one to shy away from a five-dollar tip.
He believes in double-chins, double-dates and double-dipping (though never on double-dates), and obviously enjoys writing about himself in the third person as he hears his words in the voice of the narrator from The Royal Tenenbaums. Especially when he writes, he enjoys butter tarts, Pop Tarts and, well, regular tarts (in that order) because they make life fun. Yes, golly, Harv is puerile.
Connect with Harv by searching Harvey Church Mysteries on Facebook and at #hashtag_harv on Instagram. You can also find him wandering the streets of Chicago, Toronto, Montreal or the Lido deck of a Princess Cruise ship. If you see Harv, ask to see a magic trick!