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3 Mrs. Kaplan Mystery books by Mark Reutlinger are Cozy Mystery Event picks #cozymystery #giveaway


Oy Vey, Maria!, a Mrs. Kaplan Mystery


Mark Reutlinger


Cozy Mystery

Book Blurb:

Rose Kaplan and her sidekick Ida are at it again. It’s the holiday of Purim, and almost everyone at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors is in costume for the Purim play. All except one, who will instead have to be fitted for a shroud. Once again, “Mrs. K” and Ida are called upon to solve the puzzle of a mysterious death at the Home. Described by Chanticleer Book Reviews as “at times more Lucy and Ethel than Holmes and Watson, with a soupcon of Miss Jane Marple,” these geriatric amateur sleuths will keep you laughing, guessing, and maybe even learning a bissel Yiddish!


I didn’t see the shuttle outside when I entered the lobby.

“Are we not going downtown this morning?” I asked Mrs. K when I saw her.

“Yes, we are. But it seems the shuttle is in the garage for repairs.”

“So we’ll be taking a taxi? Have you your senior discount card with you? Mine is in my room.”

Mrs. K looked a bit uneasy. “Yes, I have mine,” she said, “but we won’t be using it.”

“Surely we aren’t going to walk,” I said. “We might as well try to climb Mt. Everest. Or so my feet would tell you.”

Mrs. K laughed. “No, no. We aren’t walking.”

“Nu, so what then? Fly?”

“I shall explain. I was asking Joy at the reception desk to call us a taxi when Sophie Glass taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘If you’re going downtown, Rose, why not come with me? While the shuttle is down, my grandson Sammy said I could drive one of his cars so I can get around.’”

“Her grandson has more than one car?”

“Apparently so. She said he has been a … what did she call him … a ‘car nut’ ever since he was a teenager, taking them apart and putting them together and ‘souping them up’ and all that, and now he still has several cars he likes to work on. The one he lent to Sophie must be one of his spares. Anyway, she said she was going downtown this morning and would love to have company. I guess I said we would be glad to ride with her.”

I was a bit shocked. “I can’t believe Sophie Glass still drives. Gottenu! She must be at least 85 years old and frail like a faigeleh. Like a little bird. And the glasses she wears are thick like hockey … hockey whatchamacallits.”

“Pucks,” said Mrs. K.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Pucks. Hockey pucks. Yes, they are quite thick, and she is delicate, as you say. I would not choose to ride with her, but … well, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by refusing. I couldn’t very well say I—or we—didn’t trust her driving, as we have never driven with her before. And I certainly couldn’t say something like, ‘I’m sorry, Sophie, but you’re too old.’”

“No, of course not,” I said. I sighed. There seemed to be nothing to be done except ride downtown with Sophie Glass. . . .


Unfortunately, my doubts were more than confirmed when Sophie drove up in her grandson’s car. I could see immediately why it was his “spare” car, as in “spare tire”: it should only be used in case of emergency. My best guess is that this was Sammy’s first car, and it was quite old when he bought it.

As soon as I saw the car, I grabbed Mrs. K’s arm and said, “Rose, what is that Sophie is driving? It looks like it was used in the war and barely survived.”

“Yes, Ida. World War One, most likely.”

I will try to describe this machine. To say this car was big and old would be an understatement. The only time I have seen such cars before is in the movies, where nogoodniks like Albert Capone would sit in the back and smoke big cigars, unless they were being shot with machine guns, in which case the cars would end up looking like the colander I use to drain lentils. Its tuchis was up in the air and the front part down low, like it was one of those athletes in the Olympics getting ready to run a race. The body was painted black, although it had apparently been unpainted in several places. And oy, did it ever make a racket. And just to add frosting to the cake, it had bright red flames painted on the side, as if they were coming out of the motor. Maybe they were!

“I imagine,” Mrs. K commented, “this was at one time quite an elegant automobile. Sophie’s grandson probably didn’t have the heart to send this car to the junkyard, so he kept it around so people like us would have the pleasure of riding in it.” I don’t think she was being serious. Such a pleasure we can easily do without, thank you.

I was the first to reach the car, which was making a low rumbling sound, I imagined something like a very large lion or tiger makes when getting ready to leap on an unsuspecting gazelle. I gingerly turned the handle of the rear door and pulled. Nothing happened. I pulled harder. Nothing happened. Finally Mrs. K grasped the handle with me and we both pulled. Even a growling tiger was no match for the combined weight of two determined ladies. The door swung open and it was all Mrs. K and I could do to keep from ending up head over tuchis in an undignified heap on the ground.

When we had finally climbed into the back seat, the car took off with a jerk and a roar.

That poor gazelle didn’t have a chance!

The first thing we noticed when the car was moving was that we could not see anyone driving it. Looking over the high back of the front seat, we saw little Sophie peering over the top of the big steering wheel, the seat being pulled as far forward as possible so she could reach the pedals.

“Sophie,” Mrs. K said, loud enough to be heard over the engine roar, “are you sure you can drive this … this vehicle?”

Sophie looked back, meaning she was not looking where the car was going, and said with a smile, “Oh, yes, Rose. Isn’t it fun?”

If you define fun as having a heart attack, I suppose the answer was “yes.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

Like the other books in the “Mrs. Kaplan” series, Oy Vey, Maria! combines humor, mystery, and insight into Jewish traditions and holidays, in this case the holiday of Purim. It also gives readers a different, more positive view of a retirement home and the people who live there than is usually found in the popular press. All in all, it is a fast and fun read for a lazy afternoon at home or on the beach.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $10 Amazon US or Amazon Canada gift card

Open Internationally. You must have an active Amazon US or CA account to win. Runs February 20 – February 28, 2023. Winner will be drawn on March 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

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 live in University Place, Washington.

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A Pain in the Tuchis, a Mrs. Kaplan Mystery


Mark Reutlinger


Cozy Mystery

Book Blurb:

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.

“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.

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

A Pain in the Tuchis combines mystery and humor with insights into Yom Kippur, the most important Jewish holiday, and life in a retirement home. You’ll even pick up a few Yiddish phrases (all translated, of course), including a choice Yiddish curse or two. But most of all, you’ll just have fun reading about Rose and Ida, who have been described as “more Lucy and Ethel than Holmes and Watson, with a soupcon of Miss Jane Marple.”


Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death


Mark Reutlinger


Cozy Mystery

Book Blurb:

Everyone knows that Rose Kaplan makes the best matzoh ball soup around—she’s a regular matzoh ball maven—so it’s no surprise at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors when, once again, Mrs. K wins the honor of preparing the beloved dish for the Home’s seder on the first night of Passover. But when Bertha Finkelstein is discovered facedown in her bowl of soup, her death puts a bit of a pall on the rest of the seder. And things go really meshugge when it comes out that Bertha choked on a diamond earring earlier stolen from resident Daisy Goldfarb. Suddenly Mrs. K is the prime suspect in the police investigation of both theft and murder. Oy vey—it’s a recipe for disaster, unless Rose and her dear friend Ida can summon up the chutzpah to face down the police and solve the mystery themselves.


So every year just before Pesach, we have a little contest here at the Home. Everyone who thinks they make a nice matzoh ball soup is given a chance to make a batch for the rest of us to try, and then we vote: a secret vote, of course—we have to live with each other afterward, no?—on whose is the best, and the winner makes the matzoh ball soup for our seder that year. It may seem to you that it’s no great prize to have to do all that work and make matzoh balls for almost a hundred residents, but I assure you it is a great honor; and besides, what else have we to do here at the Home that is so important we can’t find time to prepare a few matzoh balls? As you might have guessed, Mrs. K almost always wins this contest—she is a real matzoh ball maven—and it is therefore her matzoh ball soup that usually is served at the Home on Pesach. This year was no exception, and Mrs. K again had the good fortune to be the winner.

As you will see, however, the devil should have such good fortune.

. . .

Finally everyone went back to their tables and their soup, which fortunately came from the kitchen very hot and was still quite warm. The rabbi completed his brief remarks thanking Mrs. K, who was as usual both pleased and a bit uncomfortable, as she doesn’t like to be the center of attention. There was a hum of low voices and then the polite slurping of soup, not to mention quite a bit of much louder slurping. It seems to me the older we get, the louder we eat. And everything seemed fine until someone behind us shouted, “Oh, my God, Mrs. Finkelstein has fallen into her soup!” And indeed, when we all looked over to where Bertha Finkelstein was sitting by herself, she was definitely lying face down in her soup bowl.

And while it is true that at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors not everyone is a neat and tidy eater, we knew that no one of Bertha Finkelstein’s impeccable manners would think of eating her soup—much less Mrs. K’s delicious matzoh ball soup—from the bottom up, so to speak. There was definitely something very wrong with poor Mrs. Finkelstein.

. . .

What was wrong with Mrs. Finkelstein was that she was dead.

Now I should explain, for the benefit of those who might not have much experience with establishments like the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors, that one of our residents suddenly becoming deceased would not be such a strange or, unfortunately, uncommon occurrence. While we know that death comes to us all at our appointed time, the appointments for the residents of the Home are necessarily somewhat sooner and shorter than for the general population. Nevertheless, this was the first time that a resident, and especially one with Bertha Finkelstein’s sense of propriety, had departed by way of their bowl of chicken soup, so you can imagine that it caused more than the usual stir.

Poor Bertha Finkelstein, who was now as far as it was possible to be from the life of the party, was carried back to her room by members of the staff, and after a decent interval the seder resumed, although the humming and the slurping were decidedly subdued. Dr. Arnold Menschyk, the physician on call at the Home, was summoned immediately, as was Mr. Pupik, the general manager, who had chosen to have dinner at his home, which was typical of the shlemiel, but that’s another story. They looked like Mutt and Jeff standing there: tall skinny Dr. Menschyk, with the frizzy hair going in all directions, and short, dumpy Mr. Pupik, with hardly any hair at all.

Now Pupik is one who likes to run what he calls a “tight ship,” and he dislikes anything that upsets the orderly flow of activities at the Home. And a resident who expires in her soup is just the sort of thing that he might call “disorderly.” But there it was, and so he and Dr. Menschyk disappeared into Bertha Finkelstein’s room, closed the door, and left us to continue without her. And to be honest, some of the residents left their soup uneaten, just in case it might have figured in Bertha’s demise. This did not go unnoticed by Mrs. K, and she was a little hurt by the implication regarding her matzoh ball soup.

Can you blame her?

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death is a light-hearted cozy mystery, a fast and easy read, and the perfect book for an afternoon on the porch or at the beach. In addition to discovering how Rose Kaplan and her best friend Ida (a senior-citizen Holmes and Watson duo) solve the mystery of the woman who expired face down in her chicken soup, the reader learns a bit about the celebration of Passover, as well as a few good Yiddish curses along the way.

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N. N. Light
N. N. Light
20 feb 2023

Thank you, Mark, for sharing your cozy mystery series in our Cozy Mystery Bookish Event!

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