"This Pen For Hire" could just as easily be called "This Pun For Hire" because it's a rollicking, laugh-filled mystery by Laura Levine, an L.A. based comedy writer with many hit television programs to her credit. In this, her first novel, she introduces witty and wary Jaine Austin who views life, love, lust and Los Angeles with a practiced albeit jaundiced eye.
Jaine is a writer for hire who has authored everything from libido laced personal ads to ardent vows of true love. This is her daytime job. At night she's out and about searching for her one-and-only in Hollywood's bistros.
Enter a gawking geek, Howard Murdoch, who retains Jaine to write a love letter to Stacy Lawrence, a heart-stopping aerobics instructor whom Howard has never met. Crime comes quickly when Howard discovers Stacy beaten to death with a Thigh Master. The hapless Howard is, of course, fingered for the killing. Jaime is determined to prove his innocence.
Wielding her Bloomies card like a press pass and totally disregarding all obstacles Jaine is hot on the trail of the killer who wants to make a real ghost writer out of her.
"This Pen For Hire" is a fun beach read, and Jaine a likeable heroine. Hope Laura Levine is back at the computer coming up with a second adventure for this dauntless dame.
Jaine Austen runs a (mostly) successful freelance writing business. In between promo material for commercial companies, she gets a request to write a love letter. Geeky Howard Murdoch has a crush on Stacy, one of the instructors at his fitness center. Jaine figures Stacy will never agree to the date and is shocked to learn that her letter actual was successful. But the biggest shock is when Howard arrives for their date to discover Stacy bludgeoned to death with her thigh master. The police are sure Howard did it, and Jaine feels responsible for getting him in this mess. So she starts digging into the case herself. She finds no shortage of suspects, but can she figure out what's happening before something happens to her?
This series debut was an absolute delight. The story is well plotted, and the pace never lets up. The main characters are fleshed out well. What sets this book apart, however, is the humor. Written in the first person, the pages drip with wit and sarcasm in all the right places. I constantly had a grin on my face, and several times found myself laughing out loud. Yet, it never looses sight of the fact that it's a murder mystery first; the humor never gets in the way of the story.
Anyone looking for a light, fun mystery for a relaxing weekend or trip need look no further. I've already added this series to my favorites and look forward to Jaine's further adventures.
on 12 September 2013
Any of Laura Levine's Jaine Austen books are worth a look, her style is always very readable. As a rule I avoid American books and bought the first as a holiday-read without realising it was American, but went on to read her others as I like her characters. This one is good with plot twists and red-herrings and her usual quirky characters. And of course, Jaine with her feline side-kick, guilt-trips and weight issues.