Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: Death by Pantyhose by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen #6)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny, good mystery
Cons: Slows down a little by romantic sub-plot (which is still entertaining)
The Bottom Line:
More laughs, more murder
With unusual weapon
That fits series well

This Has Got to be the Most Unusual Murder Weapon Yet

You'd think being a freelance writer would be a safe job. But that sure doesn't seem to be the case for Jaine Austen. While she can barely find paying clients, she seems to find plenty of dead bodies with Death by Pantyhose being another example. After five such cases, she seems to have developed a knack for finding the killer. It's almost as good as her ability to find junk food.

After what starts out as a great day turns very sour, Jaine finds herself desperate for a job. Any job. That's why she agrees to write jokes for a stand-up comic at much lower then her normal rate.

Dorcas's act is really just a feminist diatribe that ends with her throwing pantyhose into the audience. Needless to say, it needs lots of work, and Jaine is wondering what she got herself into.

While getting to know Dorcas, Jaine observes Vic, another stand-up comic. He's as funny as he is arrogant, and Jaine takes an instant dislike to him. So she's not too sorry when he turns up dead. The problem is Dorcas is the prime suspect since the murder weapon just happens to be one of the pantyhose she uses in her act.

Meanwhile, the love of Jaine's life has just come back into her life. Andrew is only in town for a few weeks. Should Jaine go for it? And her mother has given away her father's lucky shirt. Can she survive the fall out? And can Jaine balance all this and find Vic's killer?

Now if you are looking for a serious mystery, look elsewhere. This series is light and always has been. But you enjoy comedy with your mystery, you've come to the right place. Jaine peppers her narration with comedic observations on events. Between telling us what she is sure the people are really thinking or her self-deprivation narration, there are plenty of laughs. Add in some very funny situations, and you have a winner.

Even with all the humor, the story is strong. Or should I say stories. The romance sub-plot is rather strong here and does slow down the mystery at times. But the entire story is entertaining, and I couldn't put the book down. And the mystery does have several nice red herrings and twists before the surprising ending.

The other reason the sub-plot is important is it helps round out Jaine as a character by showing us another side of her. The book is so short that most of the other characters come out as two dimensional, but they serve their purpose. And you only really notice if you stop to analyze what you are reading.

This series is still as appealing as ever. If you enjoy the lighter side of mystery, you'll definitely enjoy Death by Pantyhose.

From there, you'll want to read the rest of the Jaine Austen Mysteries in order.

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