Let me put this out there right now. I am a Veronica Mars fan. I even like parts of Season 3. I backed the Kickstarter for the Veronica Mars movie. $1 to help them get the Most Kickstarter Backers Achievement and to get the email newsletter of updates during the making of the film. And while I’m a little behind with this, I’ve now read the first in a series of Veronica Mars detective novels. I could get used to this series. I no longer read many mysteries, but when I was a kid, I devoured The Three Investigators and Nancy Drew.
Of course, a Veronica Mars mystery isn’t for kids–it’s more like Nancy Drew crossed with the noir setting of The Big Sleep. Neptune isn’t quite LA, but it’s close enough. As seen in the television show of which this is a continuation, it already suffered from class (social) warfare and police corruption, but in The Thousand Dollar Tan Line Rob Thomas turns the debauchery up to 11 by having it also be a Spring Break vacation hotspot.
The book picks up two weeks after the movie leaves off–Logan’s off in the Navy and Keith is recovering from the car accident. Veronica is attempting to make ends meet in the office with her newly appointed “research assistant” Mac. Wallace shows up to sidekick with Veronica a few times, since he too is on Spring Break. With that trio together, the book was going to have a hard time letting me down. In fact, what ends up being most satisfying in the novel is the interactions between Veronica and the old crew–Mac, Wallace, Keith, Weevil, Dick.
Veronica gets hired to find a missing girl after corrupt and inept Sheriff Dan Lamb gets the wrong kind of publicity and starts scaring off the Chamber of Commerce’s gravy train in the form of scantily clad co-eds. The case takes her into emotionally raw territory. I will say no more on that because the reveal is worth coming at cold.
The mystery had the right pacing of clues, confusion, misdirects, and reveals to keep me interested. The dialogue between characters had the familiar snap and zing. And Veronica got some emotional growth out of the whole thing.
Where I felt a hole was in the romantic tension department. Veronica’s the sleuth, and she needs a femme fatale. Usually that’s Logan, but with Logan at sea, Veronica’s story remains largely romance-less. I’m sure that will be rectified in later books in the series, but I missed even Logan’s Skyped presence after he more or less disappeared from the story halfway through.