Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie ****

Re-read as audio book in 2010 - originally read as paperback in Nov 2008- review follows:

I'm on a pretty serious Jennifer Crusie glom, mostly because I picked up a Lot of her books on eBay this month. She's got a definite style - witty, rapid-fire banter, women who fix things, Notable Pets - and this book has it all. It's a murder mystery too (and now that it's over, I'm still not clear on who killed which of the many bodies that showed up!)

The main heroine is Nell - a recent divorcée whose husband left her for a younger woman after 22 years of marriage. She's still in the walking-dead stage, something anyone who's been there might recognize - lost a lot of weight and still in denial about what happened. The opening scene (which is hysterical) has her sitting in the office of the main hero, Gabe, a PI looking to hire an office manager. While he talks on the phone, she manages to single-handedly and inadvertently wreck his office, complete with breaking a window and putting a hole in the carpet - I was laughing out loud the whole time.

Gabe's baggage is pretty heavy too - he's still sleeping with his ex-wife, they have a college-aged daughter, and their businesses are right next door to one another. His PI business has been around since before he was born, when his dad ran it. His father died some years back, but nothing has changed - the decor, the clientele - all leftover from the 1950s.

Nell starts to change all that the instant she gets the job, and meets resistance at every turn from Gabe and even from his cousin/partner Riley somewhat. But when Nell realizes the former secretary (that she replaced) swindled them out of $5k+, and then is found dead in a freezer, things start to, well, heat up - which is kinda funny since many of the deaths involve a freezer...

As usual for Ms Crusie's stories, there's a whole slew of characters including Nell's best friends Suze and Margie, who are also related to her by marriage, and whose families are also major clients of Gabe and Riley's agency. There's Gabe's side of the aisle as well - ex-wife Chloe, daughter Lu, clients Trevor (Margie's father), Jack (Suze's husband) and Budge (Margie's SO). Once again, a scorecard would come in handy to keep track of who's who. At one point, Nell points out she's slept with everyone at the table except her ex-husband's new wife in a crowd that includes the ex-husband, Gabe, Riley and Suze. Sorta boggles the mind and was another very funny scene to boot.

Oh, Notable Pet mention: Marlene (think Dietrich), formerly known as SugarPie, is the long-haired dachsund Nell stole from the ex-husband of a would-be client because the client thought the dog was being mistreated. It was Nell's first bad decision...

While the hunt is on to figure out what the former-now-deceased secretary was looking for and who killed her, there's an ongoing power struggle between Nell and Gabe that develops, albeit realistically slowly, into a relationship. Of sorts. It takes a while to form and grow and develop a life of its own.

So, it was a murder mystery that was also a romp (seems a little odd, no?) and I'm going with 4 stars.

audio book notes: the narrator is Sandra Burr and she's good in other books I've listened to - however, I finished this a couple of days ago and did not make any notes. Ooops, who can remember after a couple of days??

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