07 May 2014

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1)

“And for about the millionth time in her life she felt an overwhelming gratitude for her best friend. Because she knew he wouldn't mention this afterward; she knew he wouldn't take it as a sign that she was losing her nerve or was in too deep. There weren't many people in this world who would let you be vulnerable and still believe you were strong.”


by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Published March 2014 by Vintage
Mystery - Paperback, 324 pages


Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.


If you know one thing about me, let it be that Veronica Mars is one of my absolute favorite people on the planet, and the fact that she's fictional doesn't change that. I watched the show as it aired (and have re-watched many times since), and had been waiting for more Veronica for years & years & years when the Kickstarter came along. I'm responsible for more people watching this show than probably any other thing I've ever recommended (constantly! wholeheartedly!).

So when I say expectations for anything connected to Veronica Mars are HIGH, you know I mean it. I finished reading the first mystery, in what will hopefully turn into a long series, earlier today. The book didn't quite capture the magic that Veronica has on screen, probably because seeing Kristen Bell in the movements was up to my imagination, rather than my eyeballs watching an actual performance. However, the mystery, about two young women who go missing during Neptune's busy spring break season, was solid and kept me wondering. I thought I'd guessed what happened a few different times, only to be made unsure several pages later, then change my mind completely. As a mystery, it works.

For the duration of the book, Logan is away with the Navy, so the LoVe is limited to the short interactions allowed to a couple separated by thousands of miles, with one of them floating on a giant hunk of metal in the ocean somewhere. While he might be missed, Mac and Wallace are in Neptune, sidekicking up a storm throughout the story. They're equal parts mystery solving assistants for Veronica and friends to kick back with on her day off. And of course there's Keith, who is still making a fuss about Veronica's decision to stay in town and join the family business, but is always the best dad a girl could hope for.

Just as Rob Thomas promised, there is a surprise return of a previous character that wasn't in the movie, who definitely adds an extra dimension to Veronica's work and personal life. I won't say who, but just know I was surprised when this person popped up and generally enjoyed their storyline. I didn't like them much at all on the show (and still really don't), but it worked and added an extra layer to the story.

If I have one complaint, it might be that the book is not told in first person. A major part of how I think about the show is how much we see everything through Veronica's perspective. While the book was from her point of view, and therefore allowed for private thoughts and extra personal insight, it didn't quite have the same direct connection for me as I imagine it would have through first person storytelling. That said, it didn't bother me enough to really knock it... Veronica is still Veronica and I still love her. Plus, the book has tons of little callbacks to the series and movie, so that's extra fun for the serious fan (and a good way to help those new to Neptune understand the world a bit better).

I'm a fan of mysteries, but finding one with a protagonist I can love (and possibly relate to) is usually a difficult task. Veronica Mars solves that problem. I hope they write a zillion more books full of mysteries for Veronica to solve. I'll read every single one.

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