Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cool for Cats by Andrew Ordover

The release of the audiobook, read by author Andrew Ordover, prompted me to update my review. The price can't be beat - $5.00! For why you want to hear it, read on!

And I didn't want to rely on Internet archives. First of all, our local paper is crap, and it keeps crap archives online. But more importantly, when they do archive stories, they do what everyone else does--they reformat them into a computer-friendly layout. Well, I didn't want that. I wanted to see the paper, the way the paper looked back then. I wanted the articles, sure, but I also wanted the short items, the calendar listings, the classified ads--the whole newsprint enchilada. As a professional snoop, I've found that not everything of importance comes with a byline, or over the fold.
Jordan Greenblatt is a small-time detective. He drifted into detective work the way he drifted into playing bass with a local jazz combo. He does both ok, but he's never going to hit the bigtime with an attitude like that. And that's ok with Jordan. He doesn't mind being a supporting player.

Until his phone rings with a request to look into an old hit-and-run case ... and Jordan realizes that he knows the victim. He had a big crush on Giselle Palmer and never even knew she was also in Atlanta. So he takes the case, even though it is completely unlike his usual work trailing cheating husbands. What Jordan uncovers is not only a murder but the key to his own future.

I liked this book a lot. Andrew Ordover gives readers a slacker detective who just needed the right motivation to stand up and move in a new direction. We follow Jordan as he figures out how to look at more than one clue, how to think like a real detective, and how to put together the puzzle pieces of an important case that is getting attention from the authorities.

This is Ordover's first book but it only shows in the lack of layers (for want of a better term). Part of the lack of complexity is due to Jordan's slacker personality, part may be because until Jordan deals with his own past he can't move forward. Also, I wished for more depth from Jordan's wife, Susannah. She objects when threats arise after Jordan's digging gets him close to the heart of the mystery. However, those objections do not seem fierce enough and she forgives extremely easily. Or perhaps that is how Susannah is wired. I never felt that I got enough about her to know one way or the other. However, that is a small point overall.

Originally I read Cool for Cats in paperback. However, Ordover has now released the audiobook on his website, which he reads himself, and it works spectacularly. As in the best cases, where the author knows the character inside and out, he brings Jordan to life in a way I didn't experience when simply reading to myself. Because of this, I genuinely understood Jordan's growth both as a detective and as a human being on a deeper level. At $5.00 for the entire book, it is a steal.

Another nice little riff is the connection with a playlist, if you like, of albums referenced in the book, via a widget in Ordover's website sidebar. Jazz is integral to Jordan's character and is referenced frequently. If you're a jazz fan, the playlist idea is a great one for hearing the music that's playing in his head.

Quibbles aside, Cool for Cats is a solid, entertaining mystery from this new author. It is one that left me hoping there would be a sequel.


SPECIAL FEATURE: Andrew Ordover narrated the first chapter for me over at Forgotten Classics. Go listen for free.

This review also appears at SFFaudio.

(Full disclosure - I am email pals with Ordover's wife Heather who is the podcaster at CraftLit ... and who provided me with a review copy. I'd have liked it anyway.)


  1. I was intrigued by your review and was going on a long drive, so I downloaded this book... you were right that it was an enjoyable listen.

    In the last half of the book, I started to find it troubling and I couldn't quite understand why... after some thought, it came to me.

    Without spoiling the story, there is a profound lack of mercy here. One person's guilt for an intentional act drives that person to punish another person for an unintentional act... If the plot had been that the person decided to let the "villain" go, and thereby felt forgiveness for their own sin, I would have found this much more satisfying.

    And that this character is obviously held out to us for affection is kind of disturbing. In Patricia Hightower's Ripley books, Ripley gets away with the crimes but we aren't supposed to like him.

    1. It's interesting that I didn't feel that the "intentional act" actually was "intentional." There was a moment of decision when the person could have turned away but they were overcome by many factors ... at least that was how I understood it.

      The true guilt came from not making things right (as much as one could for such an action). The continual chafing of that secret that the person wasn't, in essence, "a nice guy" is what drove him to take action. The villain suffers from the same sin. An "intentional" choice, which was a bad decision, that not only was never made right, but which many wrong actions were taken in order to hide.

      I saw the entire story as an indictment of not redressing wrongs caused and of the danger that long-held secrets cause to one's soul and to the lives of others.