Author: E.J. Copperman
This review has been updated from the original. Click here to read the original review, which appears in Confessions of a Cart Jockey. Please be aware that all reviews come with a spoiler warning.
I have only read two books in the mystery genre wherein the main character is allegedly on the autistic spectrum. One author denied that the main character had any clearly defined diagnosis, and left it up to readers to draw their own conclusions. The second author seemed to have compiled a list of traits and made sure that the character in their book ticked every single box.
The Question of the Missing Head is the first book in what will hopefully be a long running series of novels called The Asperger’s Mysteries, following the exploits of Samuel Hoenig, a man with Asperger’s Syndrome who makes a living answering questions. His previous successes lead to a job that asks him where the head of a cryonics lab’s wealthiest customer has disappeared to, which in turn leads to the question of who murdered a doctor at that very lab.
An interview with the author can be found in this issue of Mystery Scene magazine.
As a parent of a child with the Asperger’s diagnosis, Jeff Cohen has contributed non-fiction literature to the subject. The Asperger’s Mysteries promises to be a refreshing look at Asperger’s in fiction. Although the author has confirmed that the fictional character is not based on his real life son, the character of Samuel Hoenig is still one of the most realistic portrayals of an adult with Asperger’s.
Hoenig has his idiosyncrasies, like a need to exercise every twenty minutes, regardless of the location. He also has to deal with a lot of the misconceptions and stereotypes that people with any condition or diagnosis have to cope with. For example, when Janet Washburn, asks him why he still lives with his mother, he has the explanation on tap. She does apologize for coming off as judgmental, but it’s a situation that so many people with Asperger’s are familiar with that I have to take my hat off to Cohen for including this exchange.
Like many mysteries, The Asperger’s Mysteries draws inspiration from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective. The characters Samuel Hoenig, Janet Washburn, even share the initials of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Other characters who appear also share initials with their Sherlockian counterparts. But in spite of the influence, which the author makes mention of in the interview, The Asperger’s Mysteries will stand on their own, but will hopefully have the same shelf life.
The next book in the series, The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband will be available on October 8, 2015.