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A Pain in the Tuchis by @MarkReutlinger is a New Year New Books Fete pick #cozymystery #giveaway
Title: A Pain in the Tuchis
Author: Mark Reutlinger
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Combining the classic charms of Agatha Christie with the delightful humor of M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin novels, Mark Reutlinger's Mrs. Kaplan mystery series returns as a notorious crank meets an untimely fate. Yom Kippur is a day of reflection and soul searching. But at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors, Vera Gold misses this opportunity to atone for her many sins when she up and dies. Indeed, Vera was such a pain in the tuchis to all those around her that when her sister claims Vera was deliberately poisoned, the tough question isn't who would want to kill her—but who wouldn't?
As the waiter walked away, I looked around the restaurant, which now was becoming more crowded. I noticed something.
“Rose, do you see anything…anything different about the people in here?”
Mrs. K looked up from the menu, which she had been studying, and swept the room with her eyes.
“No, not really…well, yes, now that you mention it, Ida. I…”
But before she could finish what she was saying, a tall young man in a rumpled gray suit interrupted.
“Excuse me, ladies, my name is Bob Andrews. I’m a reporter for the Citizen.” He handed each of us a business card, which said just that. “Would it be all right if I asked you a few questions?” He sat down at the table opposite us—we were still sitting close together on one side—and took out a notepad as if we had already agreed.
Why in the world would a reporter want to ask us questions? I looked at Mrs. K, and she looked as puzzled as me. I put down my notebook.
“What kind of questions?” Mrs. K asked the reporter. “What about?”
“Well,” he said, “this place has just opened and our readers are interested in hearing about it.”
Again we looked at each other and Mrs. K shrugged her shoulders a bit and said, “So, go ahead and ask, but we haven’t had anything to eat here yet, so we can’t say if it’s good or not.”
The reporter laughed. “Oh, that’s okay, it’s not the food I’m interested in. More the clientele. Tell me, do you ladies live together?”
More looks. “Yes, we do. We live at…”
But Mr. Andrews didn’t seem to care where we lived. He said, “Great. And how long have you had a…a relationship?”
Relationship? What kind of relationship? I was confused, but suddenly Mrs. K’s face lit up like a light bulb had just gone on in her head. And it had.
“Ida,” she said, laughing and ignoring the reporter, “I now am just realizing what is unusual about this restaurant. Look at the bar and at the tables. Almost all the couples are both men or both women.”
I looked, and of course she was right. And although that’s perhaps not terribly unusual, I could see that many of the couples were what you would call being intimate, like patting each other on the tuchis or giving a little kush on the cheek. And so that was what kind of “relationship” the reporter was asking us about? I’m sure my face is turning very red when I realize this.
“Is this what you call a ‘gay bar’?” Mrs. K asked Mr. Andrews.
“Of course it is,” he began, as if we were a couple of shlemiels, but then he stopped and just looked from one of us to the other, in an embarrassed way.
“I’m so sorry,” he said. “Didn’t you ladies know? I mean, it’s been written up in the paper and all.…”
“Yes, I am sure it has, but we don’t always read the paper, or that part of the paper where these things are mentioned. But please don’t worry about it. It was just a bit of a surprise to realize what you were asking us.”
Just then the waiter returned with our order. Mr. Andrews got up to leave. “Well, I appreciate your understanding, and I’ll let you get back to your food,” he said.
. . .
“Well,” he said, “it’s obvious this being a…a gay establishment, that is, one catering especially to gay couples, doesn’t matter to you.”
“Matter?” Mrs. K said. “Why should it matter? Oh, you mean we might be mistaken for being…for having a ‘relationship,’ as you put it? Well, yes, but that is more amusing than anything else. I mean, at our age…”
“Yes, that’s my point,” Andrews said. “My mistake illustrates a couple of things, such as how we tend to take things for granted that we shouldn’t, and how we don’t have to think of ourselves as belonging to one group or another just to eat in a good restaurant.”
“Listen,” Mrs. K said, “I’m sure the bran muffins here are as good as anywhere else. Maybe better, although so far I have not had a chance to find out. If the other people here don’t mind that Ida and I are not hugging and potching each other on the tuchis, I’m sure we don’t care if they are.” I nodded in agreement.
Mr. Andrews laughed at this and said, “So I take it you don’t mind my telling this little story?”
“Of course we don’t, do we, Ida?”
I shook my head. “It‘s not every day we get into the newspaper.”
Mr. Andrews shook our hands and thanked us and again walked away. And this time he didn’t return, so we could finish our tea before it became cold.
“Isn’t it interesting, Ida,” Mrs. K said as she put down her tea cup. “For all I know, we are the only Jewish people in here. And I can see we are the only people our age. In some people’s minds, with their prejudices, that makes us somehow different. In this restaurant, apparently it is only our not having a ‘relationship’ that makes us different. And yet really we are all the same, all just people, are we not?”
I nodded. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but of course she was right. It’s a funny world.
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It’s a brand-new year, full of possibilities. Did you make any resolutions/goals for 2022? If so, please share one.
My goal for 2022 is to stay safe, sane, and upbeat as we await the end of the pandemic. That means maintaining a full menu of writing, reading, and physical activity (walking, biking, and tennis).
Why is your featured book a must-read in 2022?
It looks as if in 2022 we will still be dealing with Covid and its restrictions on our lives. We will still be spending a lot of time at home. What could be more welcome as a diversion than reading a lighthearted mystery story, replete with interesting characters and settings? It’s like a visit from a whole group of new friends, from Rose Kaplan and her sidekick Ida to the delightful residents of their retirement home. Only with a murder mixed in.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs January 1 – 31, 2022.
Drawing will be held on February 1, 2022.
Mark Reutlinger, Professor of Law Emeritus at Seattle University, is the author of the “Mrs. Kaplan” cozy mystery series (which includes, in addition to A Pain in the Tuchis, Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death and Oy Vey, Maria!), the caper mystery Murder with Strings Attached, and the political thrillers Made in China and (under the pseudonym M. R. Morgan) Sister-in-Law: Violation, Seduction, and the President of the United States. Mark and his wife, Analee, live in University Place, Washington.
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