Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

When I reviewed the first Veronica Mars novel, I had several minor complaints: the story felt like fanfiction, there were too many needless cameos from the TV series, and the authors failed to take advantage of the longer format to create a subtle, well-paced mystery. Some of these problems are resolved in the second book in the series, Mr. Kiss and Tell, but co-authors Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham create new ones to take their place.

Mr. Kiss and Tell opens a few months after The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. When the Neptune Grand Hotel is sued by a young woman who claims that she was sexually assaulted by one of their employees, the hotel's insurance company hires Veronica to find out what happened. (By the way, I love the hospitality insurance angle. I'd read a dozen books about Veronica investigating hotel insurance claims.) The case is a hot mess from the start—there's little physical evidence, the prime suspect has disappeared, and the victim refuses to share key details about the night she was attacked. Veronica is, as always, hell-bent on discovering the truth, but she's considerably hampered by the fact that nearly everyone involved with the case seems to be hiding something.

On the whole, Mr. Kiss and Tell is a much better book than The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. The mystery is less far-fetched, and Thomas and Graham trim a lot of the first story's dead wood—Veronica's money troubles and her dad's feelings about her return to Neptune are suddenly non-issues. Unfortunately (SPOILERS AHOY), the authors replace the boring money/family drama in the first book with unnecessary romantic angst in the second, and it's even less appealing. Veronica and her on-again/off-again boyfriend Logan are pushing 30, but they're still totally in thrall to their life-threatening jobs. Neither seems stable enough to be in an adult relationship, and both appear, deep down, to care more about their work than one another. I doubt this is intentional on the authors' part, but Veronica and Logan's “epic romance” stands in sharp contrast to Veronica's genuinely loving, stable relationship with her father. If Thomas and Graham want this couple to ever work out, the characters need to grow up, because their relationship is starting to feel less enjoyably dramatic than, well, straight-up unworkable.
Posted by: Julianka


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