Shoes to Die For (Jaine Austen Mystery Series book 4)
by Laura Levine
Reviewed by Gerti
I’ll admit it. I’m hooked on the books of author Laura Levine, who writes the Jaine Austen series. Calling them mysteries is a bit far-fetched, for the mysterious aspect to their murders is always just an excuse for protagonist Jaine to put herself into awkward, embarrassing and of course amusing situations. I like this book better than some of the other efforts in this series, as she has toned down the amount of time she spends with her cat, Prozac, and the flaming personality of her next-door neighbor, Lance, which for me marred some of the other books.
In this novel, the LA freelance writer falls into a job for the exclusive clothing store “Passions”, where despite her double-digit dress size, she has conned the former model/owner into letting her do their ad campaign. This way the reader gets to meet the staff, including stereotypical mean girl Frenchie, nice-but-ditzy Becky, and heart-throb/hunk Tyler. Tyler and Jaine have a lot in common – they are both writers, but Tyler is taking a writing class and it’s his alibi when Frenchie turns up dead after scamming the owner out of her own business. Everyone else left standing is a suspect, including a customer Frenchie was mean to, and the accountant, who had a crush on Frenchie.
Laura Levine is a comedy writer from way back and is doing very nicely writing this series of funny mysteries. While not the most hysterical book in the series, “Shoes to Die For” is funny enough to spend some time with, as TV-land writer Levine shows off her comedic skills. Unlike some of her other books, however, she doesn't seem to make as much use of Jaine’s parents, which is a mistake, as they tend to provide a comic subplot and write about it in hysterical e-mails to their daughter, in the style of Seinfeld’s parents.
I love heroine Jaine Austen, who has thoroughly modern problems and gets into relatable situations, like having weight issues or having to endure a man she met through speed dating. Levine’s language is a treat to read, her characters a delight to meet, and oh the world inside Austen’s head! I love her sense of humor. She’s like having a girlfriend who is smart enough to catch crooks, and crack wise at the same time. While “Shoes to Die For” is not my favorite Levine novel, it’s an easy bubble-bath read, something to which protagonist Jaine Austen would definitely give a thumbs up.