Harley Jane Kozak is an American actress and occasional writer, starring in Necessary Roughness, Parenthood, Arachnophobia and several soap operas. So far, she has written five novels, this being the first (and personally I think the best).
The story centers around Wollie Shelley, a Los Angeles greeting-card artist, who’ love life isn’t quite going to plan. She’s currently participating in a radio talk show host’s upcoming book on relationships where she is to date 40 men in 60 days, but, it’s not going well. On here way to visit her paranoid schizophrenic brother who is institutionalized at a hospital in Rio Pescado, she discovers a dead body. She believes that her brother may be involved so, to protect her brother, she tries to solve the crime herself and in the process meets small-time crooks and mobsters…the question is are they actually worse than the men she’s been dating?
I’ll admit, the story is somewhat predictable and some of the characters are less than interesting. The dating scenes are in turns painful and hilarious. The relationship with her brother though is a shining point and appears to be genuine and well written.
For a first novel though, it’s not horrible. The problem was that I kept feeling like I was reading a novelization of an “Ellen” episode, the friends, the “I Love Lucy”-like antics; with murder thrown in. It could have been worse, there’s at least enough interest to keep it readable, I just wouldn’t go out and make an effort to read it again, although oddly enough the Audible.com audio book version is slightly better and well read.
What astonishes me is the fact the book won an Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. Like I said, it wasn’t horrible…but, award worthy, perhaps it was a slow year.
Other books by Harley Jane Kozak:
- Dating is Murder
- Dead Ex
- A Date You Can’t Refuse
- Keeper of the Moon