Cadaver Blues

Blog: What's the Big Idea?

When smoking-hot Mindy Eider walks into the office with a foreclosure notice directed to her elderly Uncle Gunnar, cynical debt man Phuoc Goldberg at first sees her as little more than the source of this month’s rent payment. But Phu soon learns that Uncle Gunnar’s problems run deeper and darker than the money he owes. The niece can’t find him, suspicious characters lurk everywhere, and a sleazy bank has alarming designs on the old man’s little house.

Beguiled by Mindy’s beauty and innocence—not to mention her breasts—Phu gets sucked further into playing detective with each passing unpaid hour, venturing from a small town near Wilmington, Delaware, to the snow-choked Pocono Mountains to dank mushroom farms closer to home. Before long he’s seeking much more than debt relief for Mindy’s wayward uncle. To everyone’s surprise, the debt man won’t end this fiasco looking for cash relief, but for cadavers.

Originally published serially on The Nervous Breakdown, Cadaver Blues is now available in ebook and paperback.

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"A funny, smart mystery that slaps you with red herrings and then dumps you on a pile of bodies. And you’ll love every minute."—Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown and The Nymphos of Rocky Flats

Cadaver Blues is a pulls-no-punches page turner that you’ll devour in one sitting while wishing for just a few more rounds.” —Vincent Zandri, bestselling author of The Remains and Blue Moonlight

“J.E. Fishman rocks it again with this new mystery featuring Phu Goldberg. Cadaver Blues makes you feel guilty for wanting to laugh in all the wrong places, and you can’t help cheering on its reluctant hero.” —Sandra Brannan, author of In the Belly of Jonah and Lot’s Return to Sodom

Cadaver Blues

Writing the Book

Well-trained detectives―cops, former cops, hyper-skilled private eyes―populate most mystery novels. With Cadaver Blues, I had in mind a different kind of hero. Phu Goldberg is a debt workout specialist on the margins of society, a refugee from Long Island living in Wilmington, Delaware, a small-boned ethnic Vietnamese raised by Jewish socialists. For all these reasons, he’s a guy who spends his life fighting for his own respect―and sometimes also for respect on behalf of his down-and-out clients. I call this book (and others to follow in the series) ironic noir. The noir part: The tone is dark, the setting gritty, and Phu is a tough guy. The ironic part: Phu thinks he has the world figured out, and he’s smart enough to solve cases against great odds, but he doesn’t quite have command of himself in the way that he’d like you to believe. In fact, nothing in Cadaver Blues is exactly as it seems at first―not the women who visit Phu’s office, the teenagers who confront him on the street, the facts of the cases before him, or even Phu’s image of himself. When words don’t have the meaning we expect, that’s irony. When tough guys think they have all the angles figured out, but learn that they don’t in surprising ways, that’s ironic noir. It makes the Phu Goldberg novels different from conventional mysteries. I hope it also makes them both compelling and funny in refreshing fashion.

Character Bios

Phuoc Goldberg

Phu Goldberg is an angry man. People mispronounce his first name in a manner that makes it sound like a curse word. They ignorantly presume that he’s Chinese when he’s not, and they expect him to speak with a foreign accent when in fact he’s a red-blooded American, raised from infancy on Long Island. They assume he’s weak because he’s slightly built. They presume because he’s Asian that he’s good at math, and this last one makes him angriest of all, because the bigots are completely right about the math part. To compensate for all these issues, Phu has invented himself as a tough guy, but it turns out he has a bigger heart than he lets on. He doesn’t like a system that tries to put him in a box. And because he’s in the habit of fighting, he’s turned his resistance into a business fighting for those who can’t conquer that system on their own behalf. He’s a little guy standing up for other little guys.

Mindy Eider

Mindy presents as a naif, an innocent beauty with a knockout body who trusts everyone, loves chocolate candy, and exists in blissful oblivion to her own feminine wiles. She’s a vamp without the intentionality, a vixen without the cynicism. Or is she? The woman certainly has a way of getting what she wants. Mindy seeks Phu’s help because she’s been collecting mail for her Uncle Gunnar while he’s on vacation and incommunicado. But now Uncle Gunnar has begun receiving foreclosure notices and she has to save his house. She ropes Phu into her cause but she’s also insinuating herself into his life―giving charity to another client of Phu’s that he doesn’t want to help, reaching Phu on an emotional level that he doesn’t want reached, and forcing him into the role of accidental detective, which may just get him killed.

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