Agatha- and Derringer- Award nominee Elizabeth Zelvin’s Bruce Kohler series, is a darkly funny mystery-meets-psychological-drama, with humor and heart. Zelvin writes about the challenges of sobriety and the beat of New York City with impressive accuracy. Enjoy!

Death Will Help You Leave Him: A New York Mystery; Bruce Kohler #2 (Bruce Kohler Series)
Elizabeth Zelvin
3.7 Stars (173 Reviews)
Genre: Health, Fitness & Dieting | Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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This is the SECOND novel in the Bruce Kohler mystery series


New Yorker Bruce Kohler, clean and sober for almost 10 months, is startled awake one rainy autumn night by a jolting phone call from his friend, Barbara. It seems her Al-Anon sponser, Luz, came home to find her abusive boyfriend stabbed to death on the kitchen floor of her East Harlem apartment. Bruce and his best friend Jimmy (Barbara’s main squeeze) are curious, yet happy to leave it at a mob hit/drug deal gone bad. But Barbara, in classic codependent form, just can’t seem to mind her own business.

The trio takes a ride through the twists and turns of New York City in search of the killer, with Bruce all the while fielding booty calls mixed with pleas for help from his ex-wife Laura. But Laura’s hooked on Mac, who might be the death of her. Death Will Help You Leave Him is an over-the-top yet utterly believable depiction of mental illness and recovery, mixed in with a thrilling mystery that brings new meaning to the old adage “laughter is the best medicine.”


When the phone rang at nine, I was cleaning my apartment. Sobriety, housework, up at the crack of dawn. I hardly recognized myself. I had made a few improvements in the place since I got out of detox. I had exchanged the mattress on the floor for a futon on a pale wood platform. The boxes of neglected possessions that had stuck to me like moss the last few years of my drinking were gone. Some stuff had ended up in the worthy-cause thrift shop on the corner, the rest in the nearest dumpster. I didn’t miss any of it. I’m not a moose. I don’t need moss.

The phone kept ringing. Probably Barbara, to tell me the game was afoot. She had a theory that playing detective would keep me from getting so bored with sobriety that I relapsed. Now I just had to locate the phone. Barbara, in a fit of helping, had organized the crap out of the whole apartment. I couldn’t find anything. I was baffled until I had the bright idea of following the cord away from the phone jack. I finally unearthed the phone in a tangled pile of clothes destined for the laundromat. I didn’t have to pick them up to smell them.


“Bruce! Are you really up at this hour or is that a clone with a different childhood?”

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Death Will Get You Sober: A New York Mystery; Bruce Kohler #1 (Bruce Kohler Series)
Elizabeth Zelvin
3.9 Stars (295 Reviews)
Genre: Health, Fitness & Dieting | Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

This is the FIRST book in the Bruce Kohler mystery series.


On Christmas Day, Bruce Kohler wakes up in detox on the Bowery in New York City. He realizes it’s time to change his life, but how can he stay sober without dying of boredom? Then homeless alcoholics begin to turn up dead, and one of these is Bruce’s friend Godfrey, a cynical aristocrat with a trust fund and some secrets.

Two old friends give Bruce a second chance and agree to help him with his investigation: his best friend, Jimmy, a computer genius and history buff who’s been in AA for years, and Jimmy’s girl friend Barbara, a counselor who sometimes crosses the line between helping and codependency.

Pretty soon, the suspects are piling up. Along with the laughs. But, witty as she is, Zelvin never loses her compassion for the painful process of recovery.


Sister Angel clanged a lugubrious bell. Some convent from before Vatican II must have had a yard sale. I threw away the stub of my cigarette and emerged from the stuffy little smoking room. The patients, many of whom had spent some time as guests of Uncle Sam, called it the Gas Chamber. After two days, I knew the drill. The staff didn’t count on us to make it to an AA meeting once we left the detox.So they brought AA to us. A few of the guys already sat in a circle of butt-destroying folding chairs. At almost every meeting one collapsed under someone’s weight. My new friend tilted his backward against the wall. He looked ultra-cool even in the Fifties-sitcom pj’s they made us wear. He was probably the only guy on the Bowery with a bathrobe from Pierre Cardin. Or at least the only one who’d bought it new. You’d be surprised what you can get from the Salvation Army.

“Take off your sunglasses, Godfrey,” said Sister Angel. Her voice held a note of resignation. She said it a dozen times a day. She had made it clear that in this detox, he would not be known as God. He had said we’d see about that, though not to her face. He waited a few seconds before removing his shades, casually, as if it was his own idea. He jerked his head at me. I ambled over and sat down next to him. Sister Angel put down the bell and clapped her hands for silence.

“Who’s the speaker?” I muttered.

“Some poor bastard from outside,” God said out of the corner of his mouth. Sure enough, one guy wasn’t wearing pajamas. He had a square, red Irish face, blue jeans, plaid flannel shirt, a watch cap, and big clumping work boots with a little snow still melting off them. White Christmas. In two days, I had almost forgotten there was such a thing as weather.

One of the counselors led off, an African-American dude with a better hairdo than Beyoncé. Medium tall, sleek, and glossy, he had a body builder’s biceps, abs, and pecs. Besides the fancy cornrows, he sported enough tattoos for a one-man show.

“Hi, I’m Darryl, and I’m an addict. Let’s start the meeting by going around with first names only.”

“Used to deal,” God murmured in my ear. He meant drugs, not poker.

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Death Will Extend Your Vacation: A New York Mystery;Bruce Kohler #3 (Bruce Kohler Series)
Elizabeth Zelvin
3.8 Stars (331 Reviews)
Genre: Health, Fitness & Dieting | Mystery, Thriller & Suspense | Romance

The THIRD Book In The Bruce Kohler Series


A clean and sober group house might not be everyone’s idea of a dream vacation in the Hamptons, but the aptly named Deadhampton seems just about perfect for recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler, his main man Jimmy, and BFF Barbara the World-Class co-dependent. (Meaning she simply cannot mind her own business.)

Even the neighbors seem kindred spirits. Down the road’s a big house in the dunes owned by a clean and sober playboy with a motley crew of house guests in recovery from drug, love, and sex addictions, compulsive overeating, bulimia, and anorexia, not to mention good old-fashioned alcoholism.


All goes swimmingly, so to speak, until Deadhampton lives up to its name in more ways than one way when the tide washes in the body of Clea, the trio’s beautiful housemate . “Murder?” say the cops. ” Piffle! You people are seeing pink elephants.”

But Clea was an investigative journalist whose passions included environmental issues and men–lots of men. Our intrepid three aren’t about to let this one go. So who needs the old addictions? Secrets, lies, and danger are the new sex, booze, and drugs!


Jimmy and I set up the chairs, dug in the pole of the umbrella, and flapped the blanket. Barbara went and paddled in the water. Cheerful screams announced the temperature: too cold for me. She splashed around till we’d done all the work. Then she trotted back to us.

“Give me another bagel,” Barbara said. “I can’t sit still. I’m going to take a little jog. See way down the beach? There.” She pointed to the left. “About halfway to where it gets misty, above the waterline. It looks like a driftwood log. It won’t take long to run up to it and back.”

Holding the bagel in her teeth, she stripped off her shorts and T-shirt. She wore a bathing suit underneath, a serviceable black tank. Jimmy and I hadn’t even taken off our sweatshirts, much less our long pants.

“Where do you plan to put the bagel?” I inquired. “You’re not going to run the whole way with it in your mouth, are you?”

Barbara shook her head. She plucked the bagel from her mouth and tucked it into her cleavage. “Back in twenty minutes or so.”

“Have fun.”

We drank our coffee and watched her skim along the hard sand with an occasional leap like an exuberant gazelle.

We had just about finished our coffee when we heard Barbara yell. She came racing toward us like a steam engine. We heard the urgency in her cries before we could make out words. We ran down the beach to meet her.

“It wasn’t a log,” she

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Death Will Save Your Life : A New York Mystery; Bruce Kohler #4 (Bruce Kohler Series)
Elizabeth Zelvin
4.2 Stars (50 Reviews)
Genre: Health, Fitness & Dieting | Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

This short novel is the FOURTH in the Bruce Kohler mystery series by AGATHA and DERRINGER AWARD nominee Elizabeth Zelvin. (But it’s a great introduction to this witty series. They can be read out of order, and this is a short, funny one–try it, you’ll like it!)About 100 pages.


Recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler and his good friends Jimmy and Barbara decide to escape the big city for a wellness and couples workshop outside of Sedona. The joint is called The Aquarius, a New Age community the locals have taken to calling The Woo-Woo Farm. But the serene retreat has much more in store than yoga mats, didgeridoos, ecstatic dancing and aboriginal tracking.

During an early morning hike, the trio encounters America’s bestselling relationship guru, Melvin Markowitz, posed for meditation and strangled to death with a luggage strap. The race is on for the three friends to find the murderer. Bruce falls for the victim’s widow, Jimmy longs for the city, and Barbara minds everybody’s business as usual.

But when Melvin’s baby sister’s volatile husband “Madhouse” is also found dead, it seems everyone at the Woo-Woo Farm is suddenly in danger from more than just a handful of holistic loonies…


I am not a morning person. I like to wake to some natural New York sound, like a jackhammer in the street or six hundred school children screaming. I could have done without the chorus of chirps and caws that started at the crack of dawn. My fingers scrabbled around the floor beside my bed. No cigarettes. No smoking. Enjoy an invigorating, pollution-free environment at Woo-Woo Farm. Four-letter words, with feeling.

Brisk footsteps tramped across the room. The roommate. Last night, he’d been a hump under the covers and a couple of Louis Vuitton bags slumming in the cramped closet.

“Good morning!” Relentlessly cheery voice. “Rise and shine, it’s a beautiful day.”

I dragged my bones through the series of postures necessary to achieve a sitting position and snarled what grizzly bears might have called a greeting.

“George Custer.” Oh, great, the cavalry. Galloping off in all directions before breakfast. “But call me Jojo, dear, everybody does. It’s going to be a fabulous day. The mist is rising from the cornfields, and the red-tailed hawks are circling the mountains.”

I visualized toothpicks and propped my eyelids open.

“Bruce,” I grunted.

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