Review: 'The Player - Player Piano Mysteries Book 1' Is a Fun Start to a Spirited New Mystery Series

by Christopher Verleger

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday September 21, 2020

Review: 'The Player - Player Piano Mysteries Book 1' Is a Fun Start to a Spirited New Mystery Series

Love comes when you least expect it. It also comes in many forms. Both of those oft-repeated statements certainly hold true for Andre Beaufort and Frederick "Freddy" Birtwistle, the two lead characters who decide to take a chance on a different kind of romance in "The Player," the delightful first entry in the new "Player Piano Mysteries" series from Joe Cosentino.

"The Player" features two cozy mysteries, "The City House" and "The Country House." In "The City House," the author introduces Andre, a music teacher from Hoboken, New Jersey, raised by his Aunt Mia after he was orphaned at a young age. One day Andre discovers a player piano in the basement of his apartment building and wastes no time moving it to his unit with the help of his best friend and neighbor, Victor, an aspiring actor.

Little does Andre know that as soon as he begins to play the antique instrument, he awakens the spirit of the building's former occupant, Freddy, a wealthy, champagne-scented playboy from the roaring twenties who rubbed elbows with the likes of Cole Porter, Mae West, and Irving Berlin, before he was shot and killed by a jilted lover at the young age of thirty.

Once Andre realizes that Freddy, despite being a ghost, is not a figment of his imagination, he cannot deny their chemistry or resist their mutual attraction — until a fellow tenant, Broadway producer Alexandria Popov, ends up dead on his doorstep. Andre and Freddy decide to play Holmes and Watson, compiling a list of suspects while shirking the dutiful efforts of the assigned detective, Takoda Shawnee, who has his eyes on Mia. Andre uses his charm to befriend those with a motive for murder and reports back what he learns to Freddy, who combines their investigative prowess to narrow down the list of potential culprits.

In "The Country House," Andre and Freddy are celebrating the first anniversary of their unconventional courtship, when Andre pays a leisurely visit to Freddy's country house in Cold Spring, New York, that has since been converted to the Welcome Bed & Breakfast Inn. Sure enough, shortly after Andre checks in, the co-owner and manager, Cynthia Russell, meets her demise, calling the amateur detective and his supernatural sleuth into action. While Andre becomes better acquainted with the other guests, Freddy researches his own past and discovers a shocking family secret.

Both mysteries are equally intriguing and amusing, each with a curious, eccentric cast of characters that would make Agatha Christie proud (or Aggie, as Freddy knew her). The affectionate banter between Andre and Freddy is adorably witty, peppered with lingo from a century ago that provides laugh-out-loud moments aplenty. To coin another arguably overused phrase, their relationship is proof that love conquers all. As usual, the author leaves us breathlessly anticipating further adventures with this truly dynamic duo.

"The Player (Player Piano Mysteries Book 1)"

by Joe Cosentino


Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.