Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1)The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The case of a girl gone missing over spring break gets darker - and more personal - than private detective Veronica Mars ever expected.

Ah, Veronica Mars. My absolute favorite blonde detective (and I grew up reading Nancy Drew, though Nancy's hair is technically "titian" or "strawberry" blonde, bless her).

The first season of Veronica Mars was everything I wanted in a mystery series - smart, funny, dark, cynical, angsty, with compelling story arcs and interesting side characters. Also, it helps that the leads are all incredibly sexy, together and apart, with mad chemistry. They are epic. (Then the show got Pizzed on in Season 3 and cancelled. But I digress.)

Both so lovely. Amirite?
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is a novel that picks up where the Kickstarter-funded movie left off, with Veronica on her first major case since returning to Neptune, California. For super fans like me, it's a pleasure seeing Veronica navigate her old stomping grounds again. As a stand-alone novel, those not familiar with the series may be left in the dark. There's a lot of backstory there from three seasons of television, which thankfully the writers remember, plus you'll meet all your favorite characters again. (Except there's one detail overlooked by both book and series that has always bothered me: the check Veronica's mom stole. I mean, a missing $10,000 never gets mentioned again? Keith and Veronica never go after Lianne to reclaim the money? C'mon.)

A few new details keep it the Mars world fresh: while taking notes during interviews, Veronica mostly sticks to snarky asides about the interviewees, since her memory is excellent. She remains our morally tarnished but true-hearted heroine, a twist on the Sam Spade character. She is weighing her radical decision to return to Neptune instead of making big bucks as a lawyer, a choice that has strained her normally close relationship with her father.

And the story? It's Neptune's usual mixture of drugs, sex, and too much money, sprinkled with a generous heaping of police corruption thanks to the new Sheriff Lamb (who manages to make his deceased little brother look like a supercop). Ultimately I can't be objective about this book - I was just too happy to get back to Neptune to watch Veronica work her black magic.

There is a second book in this series, Mr. Kiss and Tell, to be released in late October. I've already pre-ordered it, and plan on reading it instantly with the deep hope that there is more Logan drama in store. I dig the naval dress whites, but the bad boy's still in there too, right?

Spoilerish: The wrap-up is smart and cynical, true to the V. Mars franchise. I for one appreciate seeing Veronica's empathy and sense of justice, though I have always been interested by the consequences of the vengeful side of her nature. I also love when the seemingly stereotypical poor innocent female victim is shown to have a lot of agency of her own.