Books

by Harley Jane Kozak
Broadway, March 2009, $11.95

As an actor and resident of Topanga Canyon, California, Harley Jane Kozak is conversant with the glaringly bizarre culture of LaLaLand, where life frequently waxes surreal. Witness the peculiar job that series heroine Wollie Shelley (get the literary allusion?) takes on as "social coach" to talented foreigners who come to the US to work but need a crash course in American culture. Strong-armed by her potential employer, the chronically underemployed Wollie reluctantly accepts this position with the shady company MediaRx in order to continue support for her institutionalized mentally ill brother. The fact that the FBI, along with her agent boyfriend, wants to recruit her as a corporate spy only serves to increase her trepidation. Wollie's reservations are rapidly validated when murder strikes in the residence of her many-times married employer. Events unfold at lightning pace as Wollie brings criminals to justice and reignites a romance as well.

If all of this sounds preposterous, you're absolutely correct. Fortunately, this is part of Kozak's genius. She has created an entertaining romance/mystery that adheres to the conventions of such fiction, improbabilities included, but A Date You Can't Refuse—and her other books as well--can also be read as genre spoofs. Kozak entertains while at the same time pointing to the absurdities of a genre that draws huge readership, but requires such enormous suspension of disbelief. Parody notwithstanding, readers who welcome the antics of Stephanie Plum will surely embrace Wollie Shelley. This romp is a mystery you can't refuse.

Lynne Maxwell

As an actor and resident of Topanga Canyon, California, Harley Jane Kozak is conversant with the glaringly bizarre culture of LaLaLand, where life frequently waxes surreal. Witness the peculiar job that series heroine Wollie Shelley (get the literary allusion?) takes on as "social coach" to talented foreigners who come to the US to work but need a crash course in American culture. Strong-armed by her potential employer, the chronically underemployed Wollie reluctantly accepts this position with the shady company MediaRx in order to continue support for her institutionalized mentally ill brother. The fact that the FBI, along with her agent boyfriend, wants to recruit her as a corporate spy only serves to increase her trepidation. Wollie's reservations are rapidly validated when murder strikes in the residence of her many-times married employer. Events unfold at lightning pace as Wollie brings criminals to justice and reignites a romance as well.

If all of this sounds preposterous, you're absolutely correct. Fortunately, this is part of Kozak's genius. She has created an entertaining romance/mystery that adheres to the conventions of such fiction, improbabilities included, but A Date You Can't Refuse—and her other books as well--can also be read as genre spoofs. Kozak entertains while at the same time pointing to the absurdities of a genre that draws huge readership, but requires such enormous suspension of disbelief. Parody notwithstanding, readers who welcome the antics of Stephanie Plum will surely embrace Wollie Shelley. This romp is a mystery you can't refuse.

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by Harley Jane Kozak
Broadway, March 2009, $11.95

Kozak
March 2009
a-date-you-cant-refuse
11.95
Broadway

I’ve been binging a lot lately on British mystery series that are just now being made available to U.S. audiences.

These series are distributed by Acorn with DVD and Blu-ray sets available from select ret

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Tom Straw may be the best-known unknown writer.

He’s had seven novels that went straight to the New York Times Best Seller list, with one landing in the No. 1 slot. The books were hugely popular and the ch

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hessjoanwithdog

JOAN HESS (1949-2017)

From St. Martins Press:

Author Joan Hess has died. A pioneer in the mystery genre and a much loved fixture at mystery conventions for decades, she was the author of forty-thre

JOAN HESS (1949-2017)

From St. Martins Press:

Author Joan Hess has died. A pioneer in the mystery genre and a much loved fixture at mystery conventions for decades, she was the author of forty-three books, o

joan-hess-obituary