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This Pen for Hire (Jaine Austen Series #1)

This Pen for Hire (Jaine Austen Series #1)

4.0 69
by Laura Levine

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Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge--and uncovering more than she bargained for. . .

No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough:


Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge--and uncovering more than she bargained for. . .

No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough: a letter proclaiming his undying love for Stacy Lawrence, a gorgeous aerobics instructor. The fact that he's never actually met the woman gives Jaine pause--but she soon overcomes her misgivings, warms up her computer, and starts pitching woo on Howard's behalf.

To Jaine's surprise, the letter is a success--the unlikely Romeo lands a date! But his triumph is, sadly, short-lived. On Valentine's Day, Howard finds Stacy bludgeoned to death with a Thigh Master--and is quickly named the prime suspect.

Upon hearing the news, Jaine is shocked. Sure, Howard's awkward, eccentric, and a tiny bit odd. But a murderer? That's hard to believe. Especially after a little sleuthing turns up a whole bunch of people who harbored less-than-loving feelings towards the svelte Stacy.

But Jaine had better wrangle her clues quickly, before a crafty killer catches on--and puts a whole new spin on her ghost writing career. . .

"This book is laugh-out-loud funny. A real winner!" --Laurien Berenson

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Humor is the key ingredient in this slick debut by television comedy writer Levine. Freelancer Jaine Austen (her mother loved the classics but couldn't spell) makes a living writing love letters, personal ads and industrial brochures, but she never expected her work to involve her in murder. When geeky Howard Murdoch hires her to pen a letter proclaiming his love for gorgeous fitness instructor Stacy Lawrence, no one is more surprised than Jaine when Stacy agrees to go out with Howard on Valentine's Day. But Harold arrives for their date only to find that someone has bludgeoned Stacy to death with a ThighMaster. Feeling some responsibility for the hapless Howard, now the police's only suspect, Jaine starts digging. Stacy might have been beautiful, but most people disliked her. Elaine Zimmer wanted the corner apartment Stacy had just moved into, and the building superintendent seemed besotted with her. Then there's the volatile, married producer, not to mention the girlfriend Stacy stole him from. Handsome neighbor Cameron Bannick, a straight antiques dealer, piques Jaine's interest (she hasn't had a good date in a long time), and becomes a dashing Watson to Jaine's Sherlock. Though her life is in danger, Jaine never loses her sense of humor as the story zips along to an action-filled and surprising climax. Levine delivers the goods, and readers who appreciate a heroine with wry, self-deprecating humor will hope Jaine soon gets caught up in another murder.
Library Journal
Jaine Austen writes letters, r sum s, and personal ads for clients, but Howard Murdoch's request leads to trouble. Geeky Howard wants a letter that will land him a date with a hard-body aerobics instructor. When Howard arrives for their date, however, the instructor is dead, and he is arrested for murder. With little logical motivation but plenty of chutzpa, humor, and white lies, Jaine begins a whirlwind round of interrogations. She breezes through health clubs and apartment complexes with chatty style, "alarming" brushes with fitness, and amazing consequences. Television writer Levine's debut mystery offers light, easy reading for larger collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The setting for this book is Los Angeles, where freelance writer Jaine Austen, whose "mother is an Anglophile, and a bad speller," describes her apartment-based business; nosy neighbor; ex-husband; and contrary, voracious cat, Prozac. Having written a love note for Howard, a bashful client who ends up being arrested for murdering the object of the correspondence, Jaine tries to exonerate him. It takes impersonating a New York Times columnist, an attorney, and a police investigator plus lots of eating, some aerobics, and wry wit. Teens will like the flippancy of the narrator as she works through insecurities about her appearance while making admirable amateur deductions. A fluffy, fun, and fast read that will leave YAs awaiting the next installment in the series.-Karen Sokol, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Although it's better than her friend Kandi Tobolowsky's TV gig on Beanie and the Cockroach, writing freelance ad copy for Toiletmaster Plumbers ("In a Rush to Flush?") isn't the most fulfilling life aspiring screenwriter Jaine Austen can imagine. So when geeky Howard Murdoch, who hired her to write a love letter to his aerobics instructor Stacy Lawrence, is charged with opening his first date with Stacy by bashing her head in with a Thighmaster, Jaine can't resist the urge to investigate. First of all, it's practically her fault Howard got arrested; if her letter hadn't referred to Howard's "Uncle Rupert," calculating Stacy (who'd thrown over hunky Devon MacRae for a fling with married talent agent Andy Bruckner) wouldn't have given him another. Second, she can't resist the opportunity to push smug LAPD homicide detective Timothy Rea's buttons. But third and foremost, investigating Stacy's murder brings Jaine cheek by sexy jowl with Stacy's adorable blue-eyed neighbor Cameron Bannick, an antiques dealer who—if he doesn't turn out to be gay—is the answer to every maiden's prayer. So Jaine is willing to flash bogus credentials at Stacy's neighbors, hoping cranky psychiatric nurse Elaine Zimmer or horny building superintendent Daryush Kolchev will have some clue to the owner of the black BMW parked outside Stacy's apartment the night her muscles finally went slack. But all the fake ID in the world can't protect Jaine from the genuine menace of a killer with a lethal secret to protect. A neat mystery debut, untidily wrapped in so-so romance.

Product Details

Publication date:
Jaine Austen Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.86(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.86(d)

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This Pen for Hire (Jaine Austen Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
TheBookResort More than 1 year ago
Memo to self... Do not drink anything while reading this saucy book. Do not read this book while in public due to outrageous fits of laughter that will bubble up & the next vacation you take will be @ the LoOnY Tunes Ranch : 0. Be prepared for the looks, stares, gazes & head shaking you will receive as your family, friends & strangers finally realize you have officially gone off the deep end. Be prepared to have tears flow endlessly from laughing hysterically. Warning... Reading this book will spoil you & you will crave more. Oh, yeah, don't forget the chocolate ; 9. Laura Levine knocked it right out of the box w/ her quick witted, smartly paced debut. This Pen for Hire is brimming with humor. Meet Jaine Austen ~ her mom's not too big on spelling . Jaine is one of the most down-to-earth & utterly charming amateur detectives to come along in a long time. Laura Levine created not only an appealing, crafty, brassy, character ~ she hit the nail & penned a fun, fast~paced mystery that is laugh~out~loud funny!!! Laura has an invigorating knack for writing in a style that gives the impression that Jaine is personally talking to you. Love that!!! Laura's clever narration is unquestionably refreshing!!! I love how Jaine often shares what she wishes she could say. Her communication w/ her parents is definitely a side-splitting adventure. And her imagined conversations with Prozac are uproarious. Jaine is such a magnetic heroine, it won't be long before you become absorbed in her endless high jinks. Jaine's best friend Kandi is a blast. Jaine's neighbor Lance is riotous. Her cat Prozac is priceless. Jaine Austen is definitely a character you'll love. Laura Levine is a keeper. I adore this series so much it is a must to have the moment it hits the shelves. I pre~order all of her books. The only thing I don't like about this darling series is I have to wait a year for the next Jaine & Prozac adventure. : /. Grrr... Oh, How I long to have a character named after moi ; p ... Don't miss out on this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it as Ilove all her books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, though I knew who done it within the first few chapters. Jaine is pretty funny and the characters in the book are easy to like. I will be reading another one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of the Jaine Austen books and loved them all. Laura Levine brings the characters to life and makes a very entertaining read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Debb23 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I loved Jaine, her thought process had me laughing more times than I can remember. I love when I can laugh with a story, even a murder mystery. The characters were real and believable. The mystery had me guessing until the end...I never saw it coming. I loved the antics with her cat Prozac, great name. I am definately continuing on with this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
spongebob22 More than 1 year ago
Very quick read - clever writing - some lines made me laugh out loud. Looking forward to more in the series. Actually found this author on The Big Bang Theory - book was staged on a bookshelf in one of the shows and I looked her up to see if it was a real author. Turns out she is - and very quick witted as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great funny read. My first read by her. I will start her second one today. This was an easy read
slk53 More than 1 year ago
Love this series of books! Laura Levine is very good at what she does. Her self-deprecating humor is delightful to read. I'll be reading all of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not care for this book at all and will not be buying any others by this author. It is filled with crude, disgusting humor from beginning to end. Also, the story and mindless characters did not hold my attention, only finished it because I paid for it, then deleted it immediately!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great little cozy mystery. Quick read. Buying the next in series now!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author has an easy to read, light writing style. I'd say this is a good "beach" read. There is only about 160 reading pages so it is easy to get through. I'm not sure I'm in love with her protagonist. There are times when I wish she'd show more backbone. I don't like characters that let others walk all over them. I'd say buy it if you want a quick light-hearted book. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to buy the next one...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was short, but it was very good! It was a chick lit book and about a writer who stumbles upon a crime scene. I plan on getting more of her books in my library!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy to read on Nook...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Funny fast read. Addicting series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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