Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line
***Warning: Spoilers for the “Veronica Mars” TV show and movie!***
This first Veronica Mars book picks up right after the movie left off: Veronica has just turned down a lucrative job as a lawyer in NYC to return to her hometown of Neptune, California, as a private investigator. Unfortunately, business isn’t so great, due to her father’s extended recovery (after being hit by a car in the movie) and Neptune’s continued hostility toward her. But when spring break arrives in Neptune with its drinking, drugs, and all-night partying, Veronica soon has more work than she bargained for. A freshman girl goes missing, and the oafish local sheriff does nothing to look for her, claiming that she probably just wandered off on her own. But after speaking to the girl’s friends, Veronica is sure that something awful happened to her. Did her on-again, off-again boyfriend lose his temper one night? Or did someone abduct her from the party she attended on the last night her friends saw her? As Veronica investigates the case, she runs into several people from her past, including Eli “Weevil” Navarro, Dick Casablancas, and her estranged mother — not to mention her best friends Wallace and Mac. But when a second girl goes missing, Veronica must focus all of her attention on the case, or risk becoming a victim herself.
I’ve long been a fan of the “Veronica Mars” TV show, and I was very excited about the movie that continued her story 10 years later. Now showrunner Rob Thomas has responded to the show’s following by writing books that continue the story even further. I definitely think that fans of “Veronica Mars” will like this book, which honestly feels just like a vintage episode of the show. Veronica may be older, but she still has the same tough-as-nails persona, always ready with a sarcastic quip to mask any hint of vulnerability. But this book does open some old wounds for her, as she once again meets the mother who abandoned her. On the one hand, she wants to protect herself and is rightly suspicious of her mother’s motives; on the other hand, part of her wants to reach out and forgive. I hope subsequent books continue to explore this relationship, which could lead to some interesting character growth on Veronica’s part. I was a little disappointed that some of my beloved characters from the show got short shrift, particularly Logan (deployed overseas) and Keith (still recuperating), who each only got a couple of scenes. As for the mystery, I thought it was very clever, and I was definitely surprised by the reveal at the end. So I would definitely recommend this to “Veronica Mars” fans, but it probably doesn’t work very well as a standalone novel.