The blurb says this:
An elderly woman is found poisoned in the upstairs bedroom of her home whose front door stands 52 steps above the street in an old-fashioned whodunit that blends clues, red herrings, suspects, and humor.
It has a solid 4 stars. I wanted something fast to read and this promised me funny. It was free. I got what I paid for.
Two homicide detectives get a call to investigate a suspicious death in a historic neighborhood. All the houses are built on a hill with a steep set of stairs leading to them. The cops are both fat. HERE'S THE JOKE, GUYS. TWO FAT GUYS HAVE TO GO UP 52 STEPS.
In print this would be 221 pages. About 200 of those pages are dedicated to how fat these guys are, how hard it is for them to get up these steps, how much they eat, how they mindlessly eat candy while interviewing the granddaughter of the recently deceased, and break for lunch. At one point, going back down to the street, they decide to ROLL DOWN THE HILL. HA HA HA FUNNY, RIGHT? TWO FAT COPS ROLLING DOWN A HILL.
They end up in the hospital. These two are a class act, guys.
The "hero" is a guy named Dekker. He claims to be Christian and talks constantly about how he reads his daily devotional and takes the time to reflect on it, but he's downright cruel and offensive to his neighbor, a woman who's clearly interested in him. He lies to her, insults her, and has fantasies about harming her dog. What a sweetheart! He's a widower who's still in love with his wife who's been dead for decades, and he spends his nights sitting in his living room watching "Make Room for Daddy" and "I Love Lucy". He considers the 50s to be the epitome of comedy, and at one point is disappointed to find out that a DVD of classic commercials is mostly from the 70s. Unsurprisingly, he's also pretty sexist. He'd probably be racist if there were anyone other than middle-class white people in the book.
Dekker also spends a lot of time thinking about his partner. Dekker will wonder what Lou is doing at night. How he spends his time. What he reads. It's a little weird.
There are a lot of characters introduced. Most of them don't serve any purpose except to be "quirky" for a page or two, and add to the list of suspects. They're all broadly drawn and mostly stereotypes: the nosy neighbor, the single mom with her PTSD son, the elderly woman. The mailman. They're all so generic it's hard to keep them straight.
There are hidden tunnels connecting all of the houses in the neighborhood. Tunnels that are apparently big enough that five or six grown men can spread out to search them. Seriously, they've got cavernous rooms and wide tunnels and I think they even go so far down that they connect to the houses on the other side of the street and ... I got tired of trying to work out the whole thing. This is important to the plot because it's how the murderer was able to kill people without being seen. It's very Scooby-doo, right down to the ending, where it turns out that the murderer was a lawyer who wanted to buy all the real estate! Jinkies!
The writing itself is painful at times. There's a lot of "'Blah blah blah, Lou.' I said. 'Well Cy, blah blah blah.' He joked. I laughed and then he laughed. And then we laughed until we were huffing and puffing for air." Because the author can't go a page without mentioning that the cops are so fat that they get breathless just talking. Because that's funny, right?! There are also pages and pages of wall-of-text pondering from our main character "If X was with Y, then it couldn't have been X. Or was it X and Y? Did they have a motive? Z had a motive, but an airtight alibi. But what if that alibi wasn't so airtight? What if Q was lying for Z? Except wasn't Z supposed to be out of town? Then how would Q know that Z said that thing about W? Did W have a motive? Was Q covering for W? And... what about Naomi!?"
Seriously. Do yourself a favor. Don't get this book. Not even for charity. Not even for free. Not even for a hate read. Just don't.