Nursing Home Ninjas is the latest cozy mystery novel by Al Stevens. Although Stevens is largely known for writing computer programming tutorials, he has also written and published a number of fiction novels.
87-year-old Marvin Bradley lives in a nursing home, but still has his wits about him. In fact, Marvin is so perceptive that he's noticed that many of the other nursing-home residents are starting to sport bruises and other noticeable injuries. Since nobody on the nursing-home staff takes Marvin seriously regarding his suspicions that the residents are being abused, Marvin begins to investigate.
After assembling a team of "nursing home ninjas" that include Marvin's best friends Mike Charles (who relies on a walker to get around) and the wheelchair-bound Carrie Fenway, he learns that somebody is planning on killing off all the nursing home residents, one by one. The nursing home ninjas then work together with the goal of exposing and defeating the nemesis responsible for wreaking havoc and violence in their community.
I must admit I was skeptical about this book before I started it - especially given my diverse views on westernized medical practices. I really had to brace myself knowing I'd be reading about depressing nursing home practices and an abundance of health ailments throughout this book. However (being the dutiful book reviewer I am), I kept an open mind, and wasn't disappointed!
Considering the content, Nursing Home Ninjas is vibrant and humorous, and readers of all ages will find this book fun and highly entertaining! The witty jokes made by all the elderly characters in this novel will ignite nostalgic feelings in younger readers, while older readers will probably find many ways to relate to the characters whether they serve as caretakers for family members, or suffer from common ailments. I literally laughed out loud several times while reading this novel, and even shared some of the (corny, yet funny) jokes out loud with family.
There's a scene in Nursing Home Ninjas that is reminiscent of scenes from the Home Alone movies, when Macaulay Culkin sets up a series of booby traps to beat the bad-guy burglars. This part of the book alone definitely makes it worth your time, as these old kooks manage to set up quite the elaborate scheme to catch the murderer given their physical limitations.
Nursing Home Ninjas' only downfall is the prolonged court scene that takes up the last several chapters of the book. To me, any court scene in a cozy mystery novel violates the "cozy" code. The court scene actually made me feel as if I were reading more of a hybrid cozy/mass-market legal thriller, and I most likely wouldn't recommend this book to cozy mystery fans. However, Nursing Home Ninjas will appeal more to fans of the general mystery/suspense category.
Although Stevens ends Nursing Home Ninjas wide-open for a potential series to follow, the concept makes me nervous, but only because of my attachment to the nursing-home characters (who are, after all, OLD!).
Al Stevens has also written On the Street Where You Die, A Dead Ringer, and Clueless: The "Pantyhose Slasher" Cases. Nursing Home Ninjas is currently scheduled to release for sale in February 2013.
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