I saw Rosie on Saturday. I found myself with extra copies of a couple of Harlequin Historical westerns and offered them to her. She was so grateful she bought me lunch. At The Cheesecake Factory. Yeah, this story isn't going to end well. We went to Borders afterwards and still high from the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake I had, I bought the brand new, hard cover edition of Death By Pantyhose by Laura Levine. Even though I had told myself I wasn't going to. No, I vowed that I would wait for a library copy! So much for my good intentions. Damn Rosie, and damn that cheesecake! (That's my story and I'm sticking to it).
Now this probably makes you think that Laura Levine is a habit I'm trying to kick. On the contrary, I love her books. The problem is they get published in hard cover and she's one of the very (very, very, very) few authors whose books I can devour in one sitting. So here I am shelling out roughly $20 for a book I can zip through in a couple of hours. And try as I might, I always zip. I can never "savor" the experience. I didn't finish Death By Pantyhose in one sitting this time though. No, this time it took me two. I'm convinced this woman has the magic cure for any hard core reading slump.
This is book six in the Jaine Austen (no relation) cozy mystery series. What I love about these books is that they stand alone very well. Not a whole lot of back story clogging up the works. You can start anywhere in this series and not get lost.
Jaine is a free lance writer living in Los Angeles. She's the ultimate outsider in L.A. - she eats like a truck driver and isn't a size 2. This is a girl whose diet might be worse than mine. Anyway, as often happens to Jaine, bad luck meets her early on and her checking account is on life support. So against her better judgment she takes a job writing jokes for a feminist stand-up comic named Dorcas (Dorcas?). Dorcas is about as funny as week old pizza, with her act culminating in her throwing shredded pantyhose out into the audience. She's not funny - and is constantly heckled by Vic, another comic working at the same club. Vic is a grade-A sleaze ball so it's really no surprise to anyone when he turns up dead. Of course, it's a little surprising that he turns up dead with a pair of pantyhose wrapped around his neck - so naturally Dorcas is arrested.
Jaine, not believing for one minute that she's writing jokes for a killer, decides to do some snooping in between the increasingly bizarre e-mails from her parents and several dating disasters with cutie-patootie Andrew The Banker (back from the previous novel, The PMS Murder).
Levine used to write for television, with shows like Laverne & Shirley, The Jeffersons, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and The Bob Newhart Show on her resume. So it's not really that shocking that her novels have the zippy quality of a sitcom. Jaine is one disaster after another waiting to happen, and there are always several laugh-out-loud moments in the slim, never over 250 pages, novels. It's sort of like reading a Stephanie Plum without all the tiresome love triangle nonsense. No, Jaine's love life has all the vim and vigor of a morgue, leaving her with a spoiled, fat cat named Prozac as her life partner.
I liked Death By Pantyhose a lot, although this time out more time seems to be spent on Jaine's personal life than the mystery. Still it was a very amusing read and I'm back to square one - waiting another year for the next book to appear. Which I'll probably buy new, in hard cover, again - instead of waiting for a library copy and saving myself the $20. $20 I could spend on cheesecake. When will I learn?
Final Grade = B.