The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Veronica Mars: The First Book in an Original Mystery Series - Rob Thomas, Jennifer Graham

More than the Veronica Mars movie (which I gladly helped fund via Kickstarter), this book's mystery made me nostalgic for the TV show. Not because it was lacking but because it was so reminiscent of an episode of the show, with the space of a novel. The difference here is that Veronica is officially a P.I. and lead on the case, with Mac as her tech assistant. Since the book picks up not long after the events of the film, Keith is still recovering from that awful, intentional car collision that killed Sacks and almost killed him. He's not able to work yet at Mars Investigations where money is so tight rent hasn't been paid, nor has Mac lately.


Then a college girl in Neptune for Spring Break goes missing, and the local Chamber of Commerce hires Veronica to aid in the investigation (you know, since Dan Lamb is a dick and PR nightmare). The girl's disappearance is costing Neptune big Spring Breaker bucks, see, especially since a Nancy Grace-like figure is drawing attention to the case and Lamb's cavalier attitude about it. Yeah, Neptune is still a gem of a place. Veronica's not crazy about the motivation behind the decision to come to her, but she IS concerned about the girl.


The case has as many twists and turns as an episode of the show, with some red herrings. Just when you think you're ahead of the game, you're not. Or, if you're on track, Veronica's never lagging. In addition to Mac, Wallace, Weevil, Dick, and Cliff make appearances (Dick's is especially hilarious, as always). Logan is off on an aircraft carrier, and he and Veronica are only able to Skype once in a while. They clearly both feel the strain, but the scenes are lovely. An interesting surprise was the appearance of Norris Clayton, who was the kid from "Weapons of Class Destruction" initially suspected of being the bad guy. He's now a cop in Neptune, probably the only decent one.


And, of course, there's Keith, who is still uneasy with the idea of Veronica having scrapped her New York lawyer life to become a PI. There are some tense scenes, and he urges her to at least learn to use and to carry a gun to protect herself. Veronica is resistant but after a close call, listens.


The one aspect of the novel that was too contrived for me was the the appearance of Veronica's mom, Lianne. I love that she's brought back into Veronica's life and there's a sort of reconciliation (and half-brother!), but it's way too coincidental that Lianne would happen to be the stepmom to the second missing girl.


The idea of Veronica and her dad as partners is cool, and I loved how Veronica thinks about they really always have been. Personally, I envisioned Veronica and Mac as partners (and PIs are lone wolves, aren't they?) with Keith as sheriff, but I suppose it wouldn't do to have an actual reliable authority figure in that department. But I could see him struggling against the Chamber of Commerce and other corrupt interests in town.


I was totally engaged by and thrilled with the book overall (including overt discussions that victim-blaming and slut-shaming are not okay). Veronica is my hero, and I will always want more of her. I can't wait for the next book. More Weevil! ;)