Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: Pampered to Death by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen #10)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Light funny mystery with a good plot
Cons: Will be too light for some, but it never pretends to be anything else
The Bottom Line
Yes, the book is light
But it is plenty of fun
And it entertains

I Think the Seaweed is a Little too Tight

While most of what I read tends to be on the light side, I would venture to say that the Jaine Austen mysteries by Laura Levine are the lightest.  There's plenty of humor along with a decent mystery to keep you turning pages.  Pampered to Death is the tenth entry in the series and another delight.

As a thank you for clearing him from a murder charge, Jaine's neighbor Lance has bought her an all-expense paid trip to a spa.  With visions of relaxing messages dancing through her head, Jaine and her cat Prozac head out.  But when they arrive, they discover that this spa is really a weight loss place complete with early morning hikes, exercise, and 300 calorie meals.  Worse yet, both she and Prozac are expected to lose some weight.

As Jaine contemplates evil things to do to Lance and ways to escape, she gets to know her fellow inmates, I mean guests.  Among them is Mallory Francis, a movie star with an ego on a power trip.  Just as Jaine is ready to bolt, Mallory is killed during a seaweed wrap, strangled by the seaweed.  With the police insisting all the guests stay put until the killer is caught, Jaine jumps into action to figure out who did it.  The problem is, everyone has a motive.  Which of those motives was lethal?

The story starts strong as the suspects are all introduced and motives are established.  By the time the murder takes place, it's obvious Jaine will have her work cut out for her solving it.  My suspicion fell on everyone at some point before the book reached a logical climax that had me wondering how Jaine would survive her encounter with the killer alive.

What makes these books so light is the almost constant humor.  We've got some funny situations, especially as Jaine tries to smuggle some real food in for herself and her cat.  There are also the usual flood of Jaine supplying what the other characters really wanted to say in situations or interrupting what her cat is thinking based on her actions.  And I can't leave out the usual antics of Jaine's parents, supplied as always via dueling e-mails.  In this case, Jaine's dad has decided to run for their home owners association on a platform of saving his hideously ugly lawn gnomes.  With all this going on, I smiled my way through the book and laughed quite a few times as well.

The characters?  Well, they are very broadly drawn.  They are distinct enough so that they are easy to keep straight, yet they don't have the seriousness to feel like full-fledged characters.  They work for this book, however, in fact I think real characters would interfere with the almost slap stick nature of the book.

There is nothing very serious about any of the books in this series, and Pampered to Death is no exception.  But those looking for a fast, light read will not be disappointed.

Looking for more laughs?  Check out the Jaine Austen Mysteries in order.

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