Can a man and a ghost be soulmates? When young music teacher Andre Beaufort unleashed the ghost of dapper Roaring Twenties playboy Freddy Birtwistle from his antique player piano, he never imagined they would fall in love and solve two murder mysteries. Now Freddy yearns to visit his family’s beach house in Florida. So, Andre and Freddy embark on a vacation to the stunning home which has become a bed and breakfast. Before Freddy can say “zotched,” a young, mysterious houseboy is murdered, the second hunky houseboy to meet the same fate. Will Andre and Freddy find the murderer to save the inn—and themselves?
A year later, Andre and Freddy venture off on a vacation with Andre’s uncle, an ex-priest, to Tuscany, staying at an inn which happens to have once been Freddy’s old family villa. Before the sun sets golden on the hills, a handsome young guest is murdered. Will Andre and Freddy uncover the secrets of Freddy’s ancestral home, solve the mystery, and find eternal love?
The Player’s Encore, the second installment in the popular Player Piano Mysteries series by Joe Cosentino, includes two cozy mysteries: The Beach House and The Villa.
This is the second book in the ‘Piano Player Mysteries’ series. We again follow Andre Beaufort and his ghostly lover Freddy Birtwistle as they solve crimes and travel to homes that formerly belonged to Freddy’s family. Like the first book in the series, this volume actually contains two novellas: ‘The Beach House’ and ‘The Villa’.
‘The Beach House’ takes place in Freddy’s former home in Key West, Florida, where we learn that the head houseboy was murdered there five years prior. As it turns out, the same thing occurs again: someone murders the head houseboy at the house by pushing him off the balcony. So Andre and Freddy take it upon themselves to investigate.
The second book, ‘The Villa,’ occurs in Tuscany, where Andre and his Uncle Daryl book a stay at a gay-friendly villa that once belonged to Freddy’s family. This time, a wealthy guest drops dead during dinner, and the detective on the case, knowing that Andre has solved other murders, requests his help.
These were both zany and fast-paced whodunnits with oddball secondary characters and plenty of 1920s humor from Freddy. Because Freddy is attached to the pianos and cannot leave the room, Andre does all the legwork of interviewing guests. Through his interviews with the wacky (and in some cases, despicable) characters, we get to piece together the mysteries step by step, though there are a few red herrings thrown in to keep the reader guessing. The murder mysteries at the core of these books were gripping and twisty, with both keeping me guessing until the end.
I found both stories to be equally quirky and delightful. Like the first book, we get a mixture of contemporary society along with Freddy’s scandalous stories from the Roaring 20s, and the humor provided many laugh-out-loud moments. There are some fairly silly and over-the-top developments and plot twists, but they are all part of the whimsy. I won’t spoil anything, but we see some new sides of Freddy and get some insight into his family and the heartbreaking events surrounding them.
To conclude with the characters, I’m pretty invested in them at this point, and I enjoyed seeing the evolution of Andre and Freddy’s relationship — how in each book, they grow closer and more in love. I really savored the stories, and I’m going to miss these characters until the next installment comes out. Another fun, highly entertaining cozy mystery in the Piano Player Mysteries series!
NOTE: This book was provided by the author for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews