In our prescription drug-driven society, tennis-obsessed Old Men are determined sleuths, as PreMedicated Murder, a witty, fast-moving medical murder mystery, unfolds with offbeat humor and naughtiness in Sarasota, Florida.
* PreMedicated Murder Wins Two Major Book Awards *
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 07, 2016
Jane R. Wood • VP of Marketing • (904-268-9572) •
FAPA President’s Awards Recognize Florida Authors and Publishers
Lake Buena Vista, FL—On Saturday night, August 5, the Florida Authors & Publishers Association (FAPA) gave out its prestigious annual President’s Awards for the best books of 2015 and the first half of 2016 by authors and publishers in Floridand throughout the United States.
The event, which took place at the Hilton Orlando/Lake Buena Vista Resort, recognized outstanding books by awarding gold, silver, or bronze medals. Forty-seven book categories ranging from children’s books to adult fiction, from memoirs to self-help, and from business books to e-books were evaluated by the competition’s sixty-five judges—librarians, educators, and publishing professionals.
Charles Berkoff’s new novel, PreMedicated Murder, published by First Person Publications and available from Amazon, won awards in both Humor and Adult Fiction-Mystery categories.
“The 2016 award winners exemplify excellence in publishing both regionally and nationally. The awards continue to command the attention of industry professionals and readers!” said Terri Gerrell, FAPA President.
All recipients of a FAPA President's Book Award will have the opportunity to have their book displayed at BookExpo America 2017. FAPA will be hosting a booth at the #1 book and author event for the book industry in the United States, in New York City on May 31–June 2, 2017.
Dr. Berkoff, a Sarasota resident, is President and CEO of CEBRAL, Inc., a drug discovery and development consulting group.
5-Stars By Gatey, Amazon
"I love British wit and this book has lots of it. A fun novel that reads at a fast pace. It has a clever plot that deals with "PreMedication." A fun read even if you're not a tennis octogenarian."
5-Stars By John G, Amazon
"This is a terrific "read!" (The author) does a wonderful job of mixing his British humor with a very entertaining murder mystery story. Lots of surprises, and a story that will keep you guessing right up to the end. You will have difficulty putting this one down. Two Thumbs Up for this One!"
5-Stars By Steen Carstensen, President, Suncoast Tennis League, Amazon
"A well written and entertaining mystery. Berkoff has developed several interesting and memorable characters. I learned that retirement in Florida can be both fun and detrimental. Particularly I enjoyed the sarcastic and self-deprecating humor (humour) in the book. Should be mandatory reading for all tennis playing “Old Men.”
5-Stars By Norma J. McKeever, Amazon
"A well written mystery with just enough humor to set it apart. It moves at a good pace from the very beginning and the amateur detectives keep the ball bouncing as they solve this elusive crime."
5-Stars By G. Vance, Amazon
"I loved the book and am thrilled that I learned about it. I recommend this book to everyone I talk to. Enjoy!"
5-Stars By Frank N, Amazon
"Great read. Subtle humor very effectively used. Multiple suspects keep the outcome in doubt until the very end."
5-Stars By Quicksand, Amazon
"The author expertly describes a deliciously wicked retirement in Florida with intrigue and humor."
5-Stars By Robert Sutherland, Amazon
"I received this wonderful book today. I flipped to the middle of the book and read two sentences and immediately burst out laughing...I am still laughing."
Review By Bill Rompf, Co-Owner, Play Sarasota Magazine
"If you're from Sarasota; or a tennis player; or appreciate British subtle, dry wit; or are an "older" man (or woman; 65 plus at the very least), or still have dreams of sexual conquest (or, if not, at least still hoping for one more ace); or a background in chemistry; or have sired ungrateful, selfish, ‘waiting for your demise’ (and their inheritance) offspring; or like a good mystery, "who done it" - or really - any one of the above, there's a good chance (actually a probable chance) that you'll like PreMedicated Murder, a first novel by Charles Berkoff.
A myriad of sketchy, memorable and unique (yet believable) characters; fascinations; flashbacks; play on words; literary references and quotes; twists and turns; make this an interestingly fun and witty read from beginning to end. I did it in a day; couldn't put it down; even had to hide it from my wife. It's fun, funny, inspiring (in the face of our mortality), very identifiable (especially if you have any "dirty old (older) man - or woman - in you) and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air from my chronic addiction to political and terrorist plot suspense thrillers. Berkoff has found a way to make heroes from octogenarians and to artfully weave in intrigue, humor, tennis, murder, growing old, facing one’s mortality, friendship and family (the good and bad aspects of it) in a fast paced, non-stop read.
It may be Berkoff’s first write, but I hope it won’t be his last."
5-Stars New Review, Amazon
"Very good book. Interesting plot and fun to read because of the humor. Especially a good read for a Florida tennis player."
5-Stars By A.Vance
"Charles, Ginger and I both read your excellent book and loved it very much. The article in today's Sarasota Herald-Tribune was very inspiring. You truly are a remarkable person and I am very happy to know you. Keep hitting those drop shots."
5-Stars By David G. Morse, Amazon
"I just found out that this book is 500 pages! I never would have guessed, since I read it on my Kindle, and was so intrigued that the number of pages was of no consequence. There is a terrific mix of humor and seriousness - there would have to be to treat such serious subjects as murder, of drug use, of aging and of sinister thinking with such a fresh and light perspective that keeps you glued to the pages. There is rarely a dull moment. For those of the aging population with drug issues there are intriguing details and stories that are educational while illuminating to the story at hand. And the story is masterfully created and presented - you will have trouble guessing what happened...but you will try, especially as the story takes its twists and turns toward the final suspenseful ending. And I haven't even mentioned the tennis part - which all players can relate to, especially those of us who have many sets under our extending belts. Fun - mystery - education...all in one. Enjoy!"
PreMedicated Murder was a recent Book Club selection by the Happy Hour Book Club in Sarasota, Florida. The author was invited to join the group for their discussion. Book Club members’ comments follow below.
"The book was a bit of everything: a whodunit set in our beautiful paradise, interlaced with family and friendships--showing that, as Charles said, just cuz you're old doesn't mean you're dead ;-)"
"The wit and wisdom of one who's lead a full, interesting and exciting life!"
"I would add that if any group has the opportunity to have Charles come to their meeting,
they should certainly do it! He's absolutely delightful."
"It was really special to have him join our group and give us insight into his writing motivation and methods. I enjoyed his sense of humor and style of writing."
"I thought that the author was entertaining, humorous, and well-versed in medication, drug reactions, and old man tennis. Additionally, he gave a well-informed history of the writing of his novel."
"In addition to great discussion and entertaining anecdotes, Charles brought a "quiz" about the
book that added to the enjoyable review."
Please contact the author if you’d like to have him join you for a discussion of any of his novels
THE COVER STORY
For those who like to play games, here's the challenge: identify those book cover features, front and back, that correspond to the clues below. No words or numbers appearing on the cover are involved. How many answers can you find before reading the book? How many more can you find after reading the book? Need answers? Please send me an email.
1. A popular Californian Sauvignon Blanc
2. Famous wines from Modesto California
3. Single Malt Whisky to die for
4. And where you might find all of the above
5. A social network
6. The party's over
7. "Suddenly Slender"
8. Symbols of triumph over evil
9. (S)-methyl 2-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-(6,7-dihydrothieno[3,2- c]pyridin-5(4H-yl) acetate sulfate
10. All A-Board
11. Nevil Shute? Gregory Peck? Ava Gardner?
12. 27.2753° N, 82.5525° W
LABOR OF LOVE IN 130,000 WORDS
By Mic Huber
Published: Monday, May 16, 2016 at 6:53 p.m.
It took Charles Berkoff some 50 odd years to start playing tennis regularly, so maybe it should not be surprising that he didn't get around to finishing his first novel until the sneaky Sarasota sod passed his 83rd birthday.
A mere child at the age of 79 when he started gathering material for his medical murder mystery, Berkoff learned along the way that a good book is much more than simply sitting down and knocking out a story on a keyboard.
There is writing. And rewriting. And rewriting. And research. And finding a competent editor. And publisher. And rewriting. And ... the list goes on.
“I grossly underestimated what was involved,” admitted Berkoff about his labor of love. “There is so much more than writing. With everything, it took me about four years.”
But it was well worth the wait. Not only for the Brit, an octogenarian who found a way to show off his wit. But also for readers who get to chuckle their way along the murder mystery tour that is set in Sarasota and pays humorous homage to “old man tennis” along the way.
“PreMedicated Murder" is a delightful read by a delightful man. It is an engaging book made even more enjoyable because it is set in the local community and is full of the sights, sounds and smells of Sarasota and the surrounding area.
Murder is the hook. Drugs, mainly those of the medication kind, play a major role. But it is the large doses of humor that makes the book work, much of it revolving around what Berkoff, himself, terms “old man tennis.”
Though trying to be coy about how just much the book relies on people he knows, it is obvious that the victims and the sleuths in the book are all based on at least bits and pieces of some of the buddies Berkoff has played tennis with throughout the years at the Sarasota Bath and Racquet Club and in the Suncoast Tennis League.
“I keep denying it but some of them know,” Berkoff says, all the while still insisting that “any resemblance to actual persons — dead, alive or in between — is entirely accidental, coincidental and unintentional.”
His protestations usually fall on deaf ears when it comes to his close circle of friends. “Some of them may be too close to reality,” he laughs about the characters he has created. “I didn't want to offend anyone so I keep saying they are bits of people I know.” He must know some pretty funny people because the protagonists in this romp of about 130,000 words are as memorable for witty repartee as they are for being victims, villains and heroes.
The scene is set during a sultry summer in Sarasota and tennis partners “are dropping left and right.” What follows traces the investigation by a pair of remaining players, a couple of older guys who like their liquor and ladies and mix up fantasy and reality.
The result is a book full of double entendre, some eye-rolling puns and a few well-placed witticisms. It reveals what old men are thinking.
It's sometimes a little racy and most of the time entertaining. There are also moments where the author speaks directly to the reader, a little like George Burns did during the old time Burns and Allen show. Or even Kevin Spacy in the current Netflix show, House of Cards.
The dialogue between the two old sleuths help make murder merrier. It might not be Shakespeare, but it is funny as the dickens.
Berkoff, who grew up in London during The Blitz in World War II, insists he has always been able to find humor in almost any situation.
In fact, he is starting on his second book and it deals with The Blitz with moments laced with humor.
Berkoff also knows his drugs, earning a PHD in organic chemistry and completing a Fulbright Research Fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University on Baltimore before going on to serve as Director, Research and Development at GlaxoSmithKline in Philadelphia. He then served as President and CEO of Antigenics, Inc., a biotechnology company, before moving to Sarasota in 1994 and founding CEBRAL, Inc., a drug discovery and development Consulting organization.
Berkoff also had a background in writing, publishing more than 70 scientific papers and patents. He eventually turned to writing humorous pieces for magazines and online but wasn't sure about undertaking something as time-consuming as a novel.
Though he had all the elements for the eventual plot in his mind at age 79, he hesitated, saying, “I decided I was too old to write a book. I know my personality and I wouldn't dash this thing out in a few weeks. I thought it would take at least a year of writing and rewriting, so I held back.”
In the business of medicine, ingredients are mixed together but nothing works without a catalyst. Berkoff’s catalyst came when he and his wife, Heide, spent a month in Tuscany. Sitting in a garden in in Siena, overlooking the Tuscan hills while sipping Chianti, Berkoff found his motivation.
“I decided, 'Dammit, I am going to commit to it and it was very sudden,' ” he recalls. Berkoff immediately began structuring things out in his mind and began to write as they traveled. By the time they returned home he knew there would be a book, saying, “I knew I was going to finish this damn thing.”
Three years later he had a manuscript. Still, there were plenty of hurdles and a lot of work before the official birth of PreMedicated Murder.
Berkoff began seeking help, attending seminars, listening to publishers and editors. He was told to move the action and conflict up earlier. He rewrote. A publisher of mysteries said he needed to cut about 40,000 words. He rewrote again.
“It was painful,”he said. “I had written them and didn't want to waste them. That was another four or five months.”
He finally found Elizabeth Huntoon Coursen, an award winning author and respected publisher and editor, who resides in Sarasota. Coursen convinced Berkoff that it was the humor that was the sustaining characteristic of the story and that he should put back the 40,000 words he had surgically removed.
I got tired of rewriting,” he said. “But I said, 'Screw it. I've got to do it.' ”
He and Coursen also collaborated with Michael White, Illustration Director at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota on the book cover.
The book has been well-received by friends and book clubs in the Sarasota area. Now Berkoff is trying to let the world know about his funny little murder mystery.