Monday, 18 May 2015

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

Veronica Mars: Mr Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham is the second in a two-book deal of Veronica Mars books. I reviewed the first book here. Although the mysteries are technically self-contained, the books do follow sequentially from the TV show, movies and each other. I would not recommend reading Mr Kiss and Tell without having consumed the previous cannon. A central part of the story harks back to the season 2 episode "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner" and the events that culminate in "Donut Run" (also season 2). I had the soundtrack of the former episode playing in my head for a disturbing amount of Mr Kiss and Tell.

The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

I had mostly stylistic objections to the first book, which you can read about here, and while they still apply to this second book, I think the prose became a bit smoother and less jarring. Of course, that could also be a combination of fewer characters needing to be introduced for the first time and my getting used to it, but I think there was actual improvement. The only writing thing that particularly bothered me was the prologue which was very tedious to read. It featured a random guy finding the unconscious victim and very strongly followed the trope of random by-standers finding a body that is so common at the start of crime shows. It was never a thing in the Veronica Mars TV show, though, so it bothers me a bit that it has become a thing in the books (the first book also had people discovering a crime had been committed, but since there was no body it felt less noticeably like a trope).

There are a few other differences to the first book. First, there are some chapters from Keith Mars's point of view, who is off on a side quest relating to the sheriff elections held at the end of the book (he's not running in them, though, so it's not quite a season 3 finale all over again). We also see more of Logan, who was physically absent for the whole first book but is now back on shore leave. Both of these — the focus on other events in Neptune and the stronger focus on other areas of Veronica's life — add to the emotional impact of Mr Kiss and Tell in a way that was absent in Thousand Dollar Tan Line. The nostalgia surrounding the victim (as in, the fact that her and Veronica's paths have crossed before) also helped with that. There were some great lines where said character tells Veronica what she was thinking when certain TV events took place, which we only ever saw from Veronica's point of view in the show.

The book ended in a way that really makes me want more Veronica. I don't particularly care in which medium that takes place. I'd settle for another book (right now there are no book deals on the horizon, as far as I can tell) or happily take another TV series or movie, so long as whatever it is follows on sequentially from Mr Kiss and Tell. Give us more Veronica!

In my review of Thousand Dollar Tan Line, I recommended the book to Veronica Mars fans and also non-fans who enjoy crime/mystery books. A similar recommendation stands for Mr Kiss and Tell, although I'd strengthen it a bit and say fans will probably enjoy it more. If you like Veronica Mars but were a bit turned off by the first book, definitely still give this one a go.

4 / 5 stars

First published: January 2014, Allen & Unwin (Australian edition)
Series: Veronica Mars, book 2 of 2 books (and a move and 3 seasons of TV)
Format read: Paper!
Source: I think I bought it in Target because it was so cheap.

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