Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hey, Sue THIS, Pal!

Today we welcome E. J. Copperman, the author of the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series, including Night of the Living Deed and An Uninvited Ghost, published April 5 by Berkley Prime Crime.

Well, this just about cuts it.

Apparently, a man who worked at Elie Tahari stores in Manhattan is suing the company for $2-million. Sexual harassment, you think? Refutation of collective bargaining rights? Discrimination against him for race, gender or sexual orientation?

Nah. He wants his $2-million because (avert your eyes if you have trouble dealing with cruelty and brutality) he was transferred out of his Manhattan store to work in . . . New Jersey.

"It was the smog. It was depressing driving to Jersey," The New York Post reported the plaintiff as saying. "The traffic was horrendous on Route 4, and they are pretty bad drivers. The stores are kind of cheesy for the most part. New York City has everything when it comes to fashion, especially Saks. And when it comes to styling, let's just say Jersey is difficult. Fashion it is not! . . . Mentally, I just started going crazy (editor’s note: Is there another way to go crazy?). I had a breakdown. I was crying to my partner. Depression set in. I couldn't go to work anymore. I'm presently seeing a psychologist and [I'm] on Zoloft."

By that type of mathematics, I am currently owed at least $16-billion. I’ve lived and worked in the Garden State all my life.

We here in America’s punchline have had to endure quite a bit. We have to pay tolls to get out of our state, but it’s free to come back. We live in the shadow of a governor who is beloved by everyone outside the state, and whose first targets upon entering office were schoolteachers and librarians. We are considered by the general populace to live in a toxic waste dump run by the mob.

One word: Snooki.

And now this. Apparently Thomas Horodecki has filed suit against his former employer because he suffered “mental anguish” when transferred to my home state. New Yorkers claim to be the mentally toughest population in the country, but this guy is on Zoloft because he had to come to the place where I’ve spent the last 53 years without so much as one panic attack?

Apparently, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere—except in New Jersey.

I know; you’re wondering what all this has to do with my new Haunted Guesthouse Mystery novel, An Uninvited Ghost. I can understand that. If I were you, I’d be wondering about that myself. But there is a connection, and I can prove it. I’m pretty sure.

An Uninvited Ghost (being published TODAY!) is the second in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series, which follows Alison Kerby, divorced mother of ten-year-old Melissa, who decides to open a guesthouse on the Jersey shore only to find that the place is—you guessed it—haunted by two ghosts, Paul and Maxie. In the first book, Night of the Living Deed, Alison helped solve the two ghosts’ murders, and now she’s gotten herself a private investigator license, which she intends never to use.

But Paul has other plans. He talks to Scott McFarlane, another ghost, who thinks he might have unintentionally and unwittingly have harmed an octogenarian philanthropist and beloved figure in Harbor Haven, Alison’s hometown. Scott’s not sure what happened exactly, because he’s blind, and has been since sometime in the 1920s.

Hang on; I’m getting there.

Things get complicated when the crew of Down the Shore, a reality TV show, invades Alison’s home to film its new season. And that, dear reader, is where the whole anti-Jersey sentiment gets, let’s say, a gentle ribbing in the book.

That’s as much plot as I’ll give away (it’s only $7.99—or less—to buy the whole thing). Suffice it to say, those who think certain “reality” shows depict what life truly is here in my home state might want to rethink their positions after reading the book.

Call it the message beneath the story.

Don’t think, though, that this is an “issue” book. An Uninvited Ghost is there to tickle the mystery solving part of your brain, and perhaps to hand you a laugh or two. Okay, hopefully more than one or two.

But if, while you’re trying to figure out who done it (and perhaps who done what), and hopefully having a couple of chuckles, maybe you’ll think—just a tiny bit—about my home state, which has given you Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Zach Braff, both Abbott and Costello, Eva Marie Saint, Ernie Kovacs, Nathan Lane, Frank Langella, Queen Latifah, Jason Alexander and Dionne Warwick.

Perhaps then we can put all those Jersey jokes—and ridiculous lawsuits—to rest. But probably not.

E. J. Copperman

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