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Casebooks Dissembled : Omnibus I (Harry Reese Mysteries)

Casebooks Dissembled : Omnibus I (Harry Reese Mysteries) - Robert Bruce Stewart This is a collection of several books from Harry and Emmie Reese mystery series.

Always a Cold Deck.

Meet Harry Reese, the guy who has a very boring work: he is an independent insurance investigator; only it is never boring with him doing the investigations. The moment his future wife joins the said investigations promptly move from lighthearted (the guy does not take himself seriously) to absurdly funny as her enthusiasm in joining the fun and crazy unconventional schemes to get the results often lends them both in very unusual situations - think Lucy Ricardo from the old I Love Lucy sitcom and her desire to be in the show.

This time Harry - a resident of Brooklyn - is sent to Buffalo to investigate a fire that destroyed a grain elevator - insured for a large sum of money, obviously. During his investigations he stumbles upon missing people, seemingly dead people, smugglers, and his future wife.

The first thing to say about the book is it is very easy read. The writing style made it so with no clumsy or heavy sentence structure. The fast-moving plot helps as well. The mystery part is quite good, the humor part is well done, but I would not mind for it to be present in a greater degree. Having read two next books of the series I can say that the second one has better mystery and the third has much better humor, but this book makes a nice job of introducing the new characters and setting up their relationships. Sufficient to say I was never bored while reading it.

As I already mentioned this is the first book of the series and as such has some minor rough edges which can be easily overlooked considering that the series improve as they go along. It is available for free from several places including Amazon.

The final rating would be 3.5 stars rounded up for being the author's first published work and the fact that it successfully accomplished the main goal of the first book of a mystery series: character introduction and making its readers interested in them.

Humbug on the Hudson.

Harry Reese is sent to Glens Falls to investigate a major fire. This time his boss gave him an unusual assignment: to keep things which might be inconvenient to "the right people", under cover. His boss likes to gamble, so "the right people" in this case are owners of gambling houses. The problem is another investigator who is supposed to be a great expert in insurance fraud involving a fire already investigates the event without any consideration for "the right people", so Harry's mission boils down to prevent his colleagues from doing anything productive. This becomes more difficult after the major suspect was found dead.

As usual the humor and lightheartedness is here. The story is short enough to be read during a short break. Its length is the major reason for me to lower the rating by one star as it ends somewhat abruptly. All in all it is well worth reading, considering its price (free).

The Birth of M.E. Meegs.

Chronologically this story follows Humbug on the Hudson short story from Harry Reese series which in turn follows Always a Cold Deck novel. In this story Harry's wife Emmie takes on a leading role for the first time. Reese family has some financial problems due to Harry not being able to find a work; Emmie's gambling did not help the situation. Latter, who always dreamed of becoming a writer takes on a job to write some small stories for obscure British publications.

Fortunately for her, Emmie has a wild imagination and is never afraid of bending the truth, or inventing it. Her stories get published; the payoff is not that great - but it is a beginning. Suddenly a dead man is found with a clipping of her story in his pocket. Emmie cannot resist starting her own investigation.

This short story is short; sorry for a bad pun. It is really nice to have Emmie as a main character of a new series as it is never boring with her around as Harry Reese stories showed us. It is also fun to read. Its length was the main reason for the rating as I would really like to stick around with the heroine more and see what she is up to.

The beginning of a new series promise to be as fun as Harry Reese mysteries. The next book is on my to-read shelf.


Harry Reese is called in to investigate seemingly normal insurance claims with some very peculiar circumstances. An independent insurance broker always worked within a particular area except for two cases where he insured people outside of his usual place of operations. These two people in question died one after the other in unrelated accidents. Soon after this the broker committed a suicide. Do you think it is too much of a coincidence? So did Harry Reese's boss. So did his wife who promptly joins the investigations despite her husband's best efforts to prevent her from doing it. A complicated mystery and hilarity follow.

The book gives a very good picture of life in US (around New York) in the very beginning of the 20th century. I really felt I was transported into that time and place. The author really did his research to make everything come alive. The book also shows improvement over the first one in both mystery and humor departments. Speaking about latter, most of it comes from Harry's wife Emmie who gets more fleshed up this time around.

I was fairly sure I will rate the book with 4 stars until I hit the middle. At this point I realized that I still have no idea whatsoever about what is going on - but something most definitely did. The mystery alone was good enough for me to upgrade the rating to 5 stars. This leaves me with a question: what is the best book of the series so far? In regards to mystery this one is the best, if it is humor you are looking for, than the next one in the series has even more of it. I have really high hopes for the next (fourth) installment of the series and will most definitely buy it.

Hidden Booty.

Thanks to Emmie's gambling in a French resort, the couple finds itself with practically no money, so Emmie volunteers her husband Harry for a job of finding a missing shipment of gold. The latter has never done this kind of investigation before, but this fact did not stop his wife. The results of these efforts revealed right on the first page, so I will not give away any spoilers when I say that Emmie and Harry did independent investigations which resulted in Harry finding the gold and Emmie finding the culprits.

The book was more on the mystery side and less on humor which was surprising for me as Emmie is the most humorous character in the series. Still the humor was there, especially regarding Harry's investigation from Emmie POV which did not make any sense at all until the very end of the story. Emmie's highly unconventional efforts at gambling are also worth noticing.

This short story is a good addition to Emmie and Harry Reese mysteries with 4 star rating.

Kalorama Shakedown.

The time: early twenties; Harry Reeves, the insurance investigator comes to Washington to investigate a string of jewelry thefts. He has to dive deeply into the lives of politicians, lobbyists, and other people related to Big Politics. It does not help any that his wife Emmie comes along.

Speaking about his wife, I could not help recalling the old classic sitcom I Love Lucy. Remember Lucy always tried to get in a show with Ricky? Well, Ricky had it easy; Emmie makes Lucy look like an amateur in trying to get what she wants, in her case it is to be in the center of an investigation, preferably with dead bodies. Poor Harry has to always keep an eye on his wife during his investigations as she uses highly unconventional and sometimes borderline illegal methods in getting to the bottom of the mystery.

A quote kept coming to my mind while I was reading, "War. War never changes". In this case it should be changed to "Politicians. Politicians never change". As I mentioned the book takes place in early twenties shortly before the Great Depression. The way politicians act has not change at all, in fact they used to be more open about their own corruption - at least nowadays corruption is frowned upon and poor elected representatives in DC sometimes have to go to great lengths to create an impression of hiding it.

The style of the book reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse; while I rarely laughed out loud, I chuckled a lot while reading. Emmie gets into a lot of absurdly strange situations, and Harry is not immune to them either, even when he is free from his wife's influence. Something else needs to be mentioned: somewhere by the middle of the book I got the impression that the mystery is solved. It was not, there was a plot twist coming which I did not see until it practically hit me in the face.

With this book deserving 4 very solid stars, I will definitely check out the rest of the series.

Emmie Reese decided to start publishing her own magazine to promote her works. She suddenly has means to do so: her girlfriend got divorced and received the rights to a certain publication as a part of the settlement. While trying to organize the whole business, Emmie is confronted by 4 mini-mysteries which she promptly solves (some of them was solved by themselves).

Psi no moreā€¦

This is the weakest story of both Harry Reese and Emmie Reese series. The mini-mysteries I mentioned are not too exciting and fairly trivial which while were interesting to Emmie failed to awaken my interest as a reader. As much as I like Emmie's crazy antics, she was out-crazed by the other two female characters of the story; she actually looks like a pillar of logic and stability compared to them.

The overall wackiness of the short story warrants a fairly high rating: 3.5 stars. If you are new to both series I mentioned above, do not start reading here as you might be disappointed.