At some point in the last month or so, I won a whole bunch of books and a very unusual object. Imagine my surprise when I showed up at the front office of my apartment complex to find out that someone had sent me an enormous box of stuff that I didn’t order and didn’t know was coming. No, I didn’t acquire a zombie head in a cooler or a magic wand from a strange world dominated by giant blue monkeys. I acquired this (after the fold, I hope):
It’s a set of Circleware bejeweled martini glasses. What am I going to use them for? No idea. I don’t drink martinis, but maybe I should start.
1. Killer Blonde by Laura Levine
A gal with a serious Ben & Jerry’s habit and credits including a tome entitled “I Was Henry Kissinger’s Sex Slave” can’t afford to be too picky about employment opportunities. So when Beverly Hills socialite Sue Ellen Kingsley offers Jaine megabucks to ghostwrite a book of hostess tips, it’s time to sharpen the #2s. So what if Jaine has to take dictation from a rail-thin lady of leisure in a bubble bath? Pride doesn’t feed the cat and the dubious side benefit of this particular job is an up-close, personal view of the amorous exploits of Hollywood’s ladies-who-lunch. The only bright spot is sixteen-year-old Heidi, a girl after Jaine’s own heart. Shy, overweight, and oppressed by her step-mother, Sue Ellen, Heidi could use a friend as much as Jaine could use an ally. But everything short circuits when Jaine finds Sue Ellen floating face down in her tub, fried by her own blow dryer. Peroxided suspects abound, including a very private masseuse, a jealous nurse, a former game show hostess…even a closet blonde with a surprising secret. One of them is hiding a murderous heart behind pricey highlights, and Jaine’s out to expose the killer’s dark roots. Because blondes have enough fun without getting away with murder…
2. This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine
Jaine Austen is a hip, jack-of-all-trades writer who spends her days penning steamy personal ads. No one needs her help more than geeky Howard Murdoch, whom Jaine successfully sets up on a date. All goes well until Valentine’s Day, when Howard finds his new love has been bludgeoned to death.
3. The PMS Murder by Laura Levine
On the frontlines of the battle of the bulge, otherwise known as trying on bathing suits in the communal dressing room at Loehmann’s, freelance writer Jaine Austen makes a new friend–a wannabe actress named Pam–and gets a new job: sprucing up Pam’s bare-bones resume. Their feeling of connection is mutual, so Pam invites Jaine to join The PMS Club-a women’s support group that meets once a week over guacamole and margaritas.
But joining the club proves to be more a curse than a blessing for Jaine. Though she is warned that Rochelle, the hostess, makes a guacamole to die for, Jaine never takes the warning literally. Until another PMS member, Marybeth, drops dead over a mouthful of the green stuff after confessing she is having an affair with Rochelle’s husband.
While Rochelle and her husband are the obvious suspects, everyone at that night’s meeting is under suspicion, including Jaine. So, instead of dishing dirt with The PMS Club, Jaine has to dig up dirt on the surviving members. And soon it becomes clear: someone in this club thinks getting away with murder should be a privilege of membership…
4. Shoes to Die For by Laura Levine
Freelance writer Jaine Austen is not your typical Los Angelino. She’s not rich, she’s not thin, and she’s definitely not starstruck. She is a sarcastic, sometime-sleuth who’s never met a carb she didn’t like…or a mystery she couldn’t solve…If clothes make the man, then what do Jaine’s elastic-waist pants and T-shirts make her? A fashion nightmare, according to her neighbour, Lance. She doesn’t expect Lance – who works in the designer shoe department at Nieman Marcus – to understand…which is how she ends up visiting his favourite boutique, Passions. While the couture is definitely not for Jaine, the staff’s gossip is. Tiny orange-haired clerk Becky starts complaining about her co-worker Giselle – a.k.a. “Frenchie” – a brittle blonde who, when she’s not making fun of customers behind their backs, adds extra-marital notches to her Chanel belt. Though Jaine doesn’t land a new look, she does land a new job when Passions’ owner gives her a chance to write their new magazine ads. But when Jaine arrives the next morning to pitch her ideas, she finds Frenchie pitched over, stabbed in the neck by one of her own stilettos. Now all Jaine has to do is figure out who hated Frenchie the most, in a case of death by designer knock-off…
5. Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine
When writer-for-hire Jaine Austen signs on to script vows for the ultimate Bridezilla, “I do’s” soon become “I wish I hadn’t’s”–and curtains for the bride spell a veil of woes for Jaine…
Jaine’s accepted her share of lame gigs to pay the bills, but rewriting Shakespeare’s got to be an all-time low. The fiasco begins with a call from Jaine’s high-school nemesis, uber rich uber witch Patti Devane. It seems Patti will soon be sashaying down the aisle with another former classmate from Hermosa High, and she’d like the exchange of vows to evoke Romeo and Juliet…except without the “downer” of an ending.
Even worse than the assignment itself is dealing with Patti as a client. At least Jaine’s not alone, as nobody can stand the demanding, spoiled, and incredibly rude Bridezilla from Hell. Patti’s managed to rack up an amazingly long list of enemies in a short time, not the least of whom include her prospective mother-in-law, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Patti’s stolen soon-to-be groom, and just about everyone involved in the wedding preparations. So it isn’t a complete surprise when the erstwhile Juliet plunges to her death during her balcony scene.
The loosened bolts that brought down the bride were clearly an act of sabotage–what’s not so obvious is whom, among Patti’s numerous haters, committed this murder most foul. Was it the caterer she threatened to ruin? The bridesmaid tossed out of the wedding party for being too chubby? Jaine’s determined to learn the truth–if only to end the hideous walk down memory lane kicked off by her association with Patti.
Between fending off advances from the nerd of her high school nightmares and figuring out ways to stop Prozac the cat from corrupting the victim’s pet Poodle, Jaine’s involvement in this case keeps veering between comedy and tragedy. That is, until another body is discovered–and the killer starts laying plot for a final act–starring Jaine…
6. Death by Pantyhose by Laura Levine
(This synopsis is taken from the back cover)
Freelance writer Jaine Austen has never been able to resist the siren call of an Eskimo Pie, just like she can’t resist renewing her romance with Andrew, an old crush. With her bank account hitting new lows, she’s also just agreed to write jokes for Dorcas, a stand-up comic who throws her pantyhose into the audience as a punch line.
Not only is Dorcas’s act a bomb, she is heckled by Vic, a gorgeous fellow comic. Naturally when Vic is murdered with Dorcas’s pantyhose and that same Dorcas is standing over his dead body, the police arrest…Dorcas. They figure it’s an open-and-shut case, although Jaine figures no killer can be that dumb.
But when Jaine sets out to find the real culprit, she is distracted by one dating disaster after another with Andrew–and she may not see the dark side of comedy until she faces the business end of a gun and a cold deadly grin…
7. Last Writes by Laura Levine
While writing for the sitcom Muffy ‘n Me, occasional sleuth Jaine Austen is immersed in her latest mystery when the show’s leading man, womanizer Quinn Kirkland, is murdered and she is faced with a wealth of suspects, including a jealous co-star, numerous ex-lovers, and her best friend Kandi. 10,000 –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
8. Death of a Trophy Wife by Laura Levine
Freelance writer Jaine Austen is moving on up! A cushy new advertising gig promises champagne wishes and caviar dreams, but Jaine soon discovers she’s not the only one in town who’s making a killing…Without a job or a date in sight, Jaine is equally out of luck in finance and romance. So when her friend Lance offers to treat her to brunch at the Four Seasons, Jaine leaps at the chance like a fashionista at a pair of half-price Louboutins. They’ve barely made it through the menu when Lance spots his friend Bunny. Dressed like a million bucks – and probably worth twice that – Bunny is the new trophy wife of mattress maven Marvin Cooper. When Bunny generously offers Jaine a gig writing Marv’s new advertising campaign, Jaine accepts the job, and an invitation to her upcoming soiree. But at the party Bunny cruelly rules the Cooper mansion with a fist full of martinis, abusing terrified staff and her browbeaten husband alike. It seems like this society girl could use a good kick in the assets. Indeed, before the evening is over, someone poisons the D-cup diva. Dead must be the new black. The police arrest Lance, but Jaine knows his murderous urges end at her closet door. She sets out to clear his name and discovers a list of suspects longer than Bunny’s credit card bill. Did Mattress Marv get tired of his little bunny hopping into another man’s bed, or did a jealous boy-toy fix her a fatal cocktail? Marv’s ex-wife Ellen has plenty of motives for murder, as does Bunny’s harassed maid Lupe. Or was it Bunny’s seething stepdaughter who sent her to that Great Shopping Mall in the Sky? Jaine is running out of time. Jobless, Lance is losing his mind and taking it out on Jaine’s apartment, wardrobe, and indignant cat Prozac. And before Jaine can say 9021Oh-no someone else is murdered. Between a house guest that won’t leave, a suitor-turned-stalker, and killer on the loose, Jaine’s jackpot may turn out to be fool’s gold.
And that’s that. Some of these sound somewhat boring, but others have a kind of cute charm to them that might convince me to give them a shot. Has anyone out there read Levine’s books? Let me know in the comments.