Death Of A Trophy Wife, the 9th book in the series, once again finds freelance writer Jaine fretting over her checkbook, which is on life support. She needs a job, and fast. It's while dining out with her fabulous neighbor, Lance, that they run into one of his best customers from the Neiman Marcus shoe department, Bunny Cooper. Bunny is the trophy wife of "Marvelous" Marvin Cooper, mattress king of Los Angeles. She invites Jaine and Lance over to their house for an impromptu pool party and suggests Jaine can pitch her ad slogan ideas to Marvin. Oh happy day!
However, it all goes south rather quickly. Bunny is a vile human being who treats everyone around her like dirt. Hired help, family, friends - Bunny is an equal opportunity bitch. So it's not exactly a shock when the woman ends up dead. However, what is a surprise is that the cops have zeroed in on Lance as their prime suspect. When it comes to Jaine's diet and wardrobe, Lance does get that murderous gleam in his eye, but killing off one of his best customers? Not likely.
Levine's books follow a fairly strict formula. They're written in a very chatty style, that does tend to employ "tell" over "show." Jaine's bank account is always near death, her love life continues to be dead on arrival, there are the wacky e-mails she gets from her parents, and enough murder suspects to populate a story twice their size (these books tend to clock in around 250 pages...max). There's, once again, a long list of potential bad guys here. There's the Bitter First Wife, the weaselly son-in-law, the mousy step-daughter, the professional stylist, the clumsy maid that Bunny enjoyed brow-beating, not to mention Marvelous Marvin himself.
Readers looking for a spine-tingling mystery with a lot of cloak-and-dagger sleuthing aren't going to find it here. Jaine's idea of sleuthing is talking to people, and the occasional eavesdropping on conversations. She's also a walking disaster area, the sort of person that tends to attract loonies and wacky hijinks where ever she goes. In this entry, it's a would-be suitor, Vladimir, from Uzbekistan, who wants to sweep Jaine off her feet, and back to the his home country, where they'll have their wedding, with his pet goat, Svetlana, serving as maid of honor.
No, I'm not making this up.
Yes, it's all very silly - but it's silly all in the name of good fun. I've stuck with this series from the beginning for a lot of the same reasons people stick with Janet Evanovich. They're fun, they're light, and I can count on the fact that I'll be amused. However, unlike Evanovich, I think Levine does a way better job with her mystery plots. Namely, in the suspect department. I have yet to "solve" any of her mysteries before the final curtain because the author does such a good job of offering me up a multitude of viable suspects with solid motives. Even in the case of this story, when I thought I had it figured out? Yeah. I didn't.
In the end though, it's voice. I like Jaine. Much to the horror of Lance, she likes her elastic waist-band pants and her Cuckoo For Cocoa Puffs t-shirt. She eats so much junk food that, if this were the real world, she'd weigh at least 639 pounds. She's still the slave in residence to her chow-hound kitty, Prozac. Her parents are downright certifiable, and she's destined to never find a "normal" guy. But God bless the girl, I love her to bits, because she says the things that all of us, at one time or another, have at least thought.
Kandi was waiting for me in the lobby of the cineplex with two tickets to one of those romantic comedies she's so fond of. You know the kind, where the size 0 heroine who in real life could have her pick of any guy in the world sits home alone Saturday nights in impossibly adorable pajamas, eating ice cream straight from the carton and never gains an ounce. Then she meets Mr. Cutie Pie, and after a few funny misunderstandings the two of them wind up in a liplock with Nat King Cole crooning in the background.Another book in the series that didn't change my life, but dang, I had a great time reading it. And at the end of the day, that's all I really care about.
Grade = B
Laydown date for this book is April 27, 2010.