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Chick Lit comes of age.
on 9 February 2002
In this contemporary comedy/thriller, we first meet our heroine, Nell Dysart when she decides that getting a job with the McKenna detective agency seems just the ticket to kickstart her life back into gear after a painful divorce. She kickstarts more than just her life however, as she unwittingly more or less takes a flame torch to the otherwise tranquil life of the darkly handsome Gabriel McKenna, who only wanted to keep the family business going and retain the status quo and have someone to answer the phone and bring him coffee. Soon, they are unearthing all manner of intrege and neither seems quite sure who's the boss.
So why is Jennifer Crusie the best writer of contemporary romantic fiction? Exactly because it is hard to catergorize her as such, she is quite simply a writer. And a wonderful writer at that. Fast, laugh out loud funny, and witty beyond measure her books manage to be romantic without being sentimental, sexy without being explicit. Not as steamy as Susan Andersen, or as action packed as Karen Robards or Linda Howard, Crusie out ranks them all by taking the genre to a higher level. While keeping it light and entertaining (bodies in the Freezer under the serloin stakes, murder by antique chinaware, death by soya milk), she also examines the interminable war between the sexes, life after marriage, sex after divorce and one of her favorite themes, female friendships. With a startling economy of words she describes the 'landscape of the heart' with touching accuracy, for example, at one point trying to explain the 'zing factor', that electriciy that pulls two people together she writes ".. you know....when he's writing and you get hot just watching the pen move. You hear his voice and have to take a deep breath because you stopped breathing the minute you heard him..." Crusie writes so well, you have to stop every now and then just to take it all in. Still it is 'chick lit' so the plot (be warned, it gets silly) is secondary to the characters and the characters secondary to the wit, but that's alright, because if 'chick lit' had a big sister, a grown up sexy, intelligent 'girl power' progressive big sister, Crusie's books would be it.