This Pen for Hire (Jaine Austen Series #1)

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Overview

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 ...

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2003-06-01 Mass Market Paperback New NewMendoPower Employment Services will immediately and carefully pack this book in high-quality bubble lined, envelopes. Then we send you a ... confirmation e-mail. We appreciate your business and welcome any questions. Read more Show Less

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This Pen for Hire (Jaine Austen Series #1)

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Overview

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

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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.
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. (June 4) Forecast: Blurbs from Garrison Keillor, Laurien Berenson and Carolyn Hart, plus the author's Hollywood connections, will see to it that this first novel attracts more than usual attention. The dazzling pink jacket will also lure the casual browser. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758201591
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Series: Jaine Austen Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 4.32 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 66 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(25)

4 Star

(25)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Side Splitting!

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Crude humor not tasteful or funny

    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!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2014

    Great fun read

    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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 23, 2014

    I absolutely loved this book. I loved Jaine, her thought process

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 26, 2012

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  • Posted September 20, 2012

    Very quick read - clever writing - some lines made me laugh out

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    This was a great funny read. My first read by her. I will start

    This was a great funny read. My first read by her. I will start her second one today. This was an easy read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 16, 2012

    Delightful

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

    Cute characters, kept me guessing

    Great little cozy mystery. Quick read. Buying the next in series now!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    Cute easy read - not too long

    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...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    This book was pretty good!

    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!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    Very witty

    Easy to read on Nook...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Fantastic Series

    Loved it! Funny fast read. Addicting series.

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Really funny--So much fun

    I enjoyed this book and will read the rest in the series. Not only was it a fun read, but this is one "who done it" that kept me guessing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 19, 2009

    TV fare in book format

    I've read three books in this series (including this one), and they all read like your run-of-the-mill TV episode. Good for some mindless entertainment during work breaks, but nothing remarkable. The heroine, Jaine Austen, is an ordinary woman with a self-deprecating attitude and an insatiable appetite for good food. She is refreshing at first (a break from perfect, self-confident heroines), but after a while, her low self-esteem (about her looks in particular), bad luck in the romance and job department, and inability to exert the self-discipline she craves gets a bit depressing.

    But the above is not why I rated the book just one star. Here's why: this series has a recurring, highly offensive theme that actually had me steaming angry by the third book. This is it: the dumb, nasty, and shallow blonde. Now, I wouldn't have had THAT much of a problem with that particular characterization if only one or two blonde characters fit that description, but so far EVERY SINGLE blond-haired female character has been nasty, icy, "brittle" (to use the author's words), abysmally unintelligent, and shallow. Not to mention that the murder victim has always been the nastiest blonde of them all. Now, it seems highly likely to me that the author has some sort of problem with blondes; it would be to her benefit if she would grow beyond hateful stereotypes and start viewing blondes as individuals with diverse personalities.

    If Ms. Levine had systematically characterized blacks, Asians, or Indians in such an offensive manner, the outcry of racial prejudice would have been so high that she'd probably be out of the novel-writing business by now. However, since blonde white women are the object of her vitriol, no one seems to mind. Therein lies the hypocrisy.

    I am exceedingly relieved that I got my copies from the library free rather than dishing out money for them. Authors like Ms. Levine, who promote hurtful stereotypes and who seem to believe that anti-white prejudice is not racism, do NOT deserve my hard-earned money.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2007

    Great read!

    This book was so funny. There was at least a few laughs on each page. and it keeps you guessing until the very end. I highly recommend this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2004

    ON the edge of my seat!

    This Pen for Hire kept me wanting to read, at the end of each chapter it left me wondering what was going to happen next. Best book I've ever read!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2004

    Did she write a letter that caused murder?

    Jaine Austen runs a writing service out of her apartment, in Los Angeles, called This Pen for Hire. She writes resumes, letters, brochures and personal ads ¿ lots of personal ads. She shares her apartment with her cat Prozac. Jaine¿s neighbor Lance Ventable is constantly telling Jaine to be quiet. He must live with his ear on their adjoining wall. He even complains that Prozac is too loud! Howard Murdoch hires her to write a love letter to Stacy Lawrence, the aerobics instructor at his gym. Much to Jaine¿s surprise, Stacy agrees to go out with Howard. Then Stacy is found dead, bludgeoned to death with a Thigh-Master. Howard is arrested, but he says he didn¿t do it. Detective Rea feels they have the right person in jail. Jaine decides to look into it. She feels responsible because, if she hadn¿t written the letter, Stacy wouldn¿t have agreed to go out with him and Howard would be arrested. In the course of her investigation, Jaine meets Cameron Bannick, a major hunk, who knew Stacy but had an iron clad alibi. She is very happy about this when they start dating. She can¿t believe her luck. Jaine uncovers quite a few people who weren¿t too sad that Stacy was dead. Some even had possible motives to kill her. In the course of her investigation, the killer begins to catch on and in the end, Jaine finds herself in a lot of danger. I truly enjoyed this book. Jaine is such a likeable character. She is very much a three-dimensional character. The additional characters in the book are all well written and the plot is well crafted. I highly recommend this book and the series. The 2nd book Last Writes has been published and is another terrific book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2004

    A Great Read!

    This was a fun and easy read, perfect for when you just want to enjoy a book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2002

    MIRTH AND MYSTERY ARE A GREAT COMBINATION

    'This Pen For Hire' could just as easily be called 'This Pun For Hire' because it's a rollicking, laugh-filled mystery by Laura Levine, an L.A. based comedy writer with many hit television programs to her credit. In this, her first novel, she introduces witty and wary Jaine Austin who views life, love, lust and Los Angeles with a practiced albeit jaundiced eye. Jaine is a writer for hire who has authored everything from libido laced personal ads to ardent vows of true love. This is her daytime job. At night she's out and about searching for her one-and-only in Hollywood's bistros. Enter a gawking geek, Howard Murdoch, who retains Jaine to write a love letter to Stacy Lawrence, a heart-stopping aerobics instructor whom Howard has never met. Crime comes quickly when Howard discovers Stacy beaten to death with a Thigh Master. The hapless Howard is, of course, fingered for the killing. Jaime is determined to prove his innocence. Wielding her Bloomies card like a press pass and totally disregarding all obstacles Jaine is hot on the trail of the killer who wants to make a real ghost writer out of her. 'This Pen For Hire' is a fun beach read, and Jaine a likeable heroine. Hope Laura Levine is back at the computer coming up with a second adventure for this dauntless dame.

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