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Review for The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line - Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas

The review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews


A decade after graduating high school, Veronica Mars is back to her old self. She's taken the PI gig back up, despite Keith's wishes, and she's determined to keep Mars Investigations going while Keith recovers from near fatal car crash injuries. So when a girl goes missing during spring break, Veronica is more than willing to do her part in finding her. What starts as a simple disappearance turns into anything but. This case could go so many different directions and it's up to Veronica to untangle the web before it's too late.

For those of you who follow me regularly, you may know that a mystery novel isn't exactly my cup of tea and you would be entirely correct. I'm not really the murder-mystery type. Someone always ends up dead in those and Noir novels rarely have happy endings. What you might not know is that I'm a big time Marshmallow. I've been a VMars fan since the shows second season, so there was no question for me when this was announced. I knew I'd have to read it, period. I can't miss the possibility of more Veronica/Logan action (and Veronica's smarts and snark). Then it was released on audio.....narrated by Kristen Bell....
Veronica Mars Over The Moon Face gif
I borrowed a copy as soon as humanly possible and began listening with my husband (who is also a rabid fan). Because we only listened when we were together, it took a while for us to get through it, but man, it was perfect. Before I even get into the plot or the writing, I just wanna give Kristen props. She does an amazing job narrating this thing. She knows each character so well and she is amazing at imitating Keith's verbal mannerism, if that makes any sense. What I'm trying to say is she's amazing...as if we didn't already know that.

Now, as to everything else. First off is always character. What can I say about the characters of this novel? Most of them I already know and love. You get a peak of everyone in the VMars cast that you could want.
Veronica Mars waving gif
Veronica is a character I feel like I grew up with and have always admired. She has her faults, but she's so fiercely loyal that I have a hard time faulting her for them. She's so damn smart and cocky and awesome. I just don't have the words to do her justice. She's the queen of sarcasm, something I can relate to entirely.

Then we have Logan Echolls.
Logan Echolls
Logan is a character that I would hate in real life. That image is probably not what you'd get if this novel is your first foray into the VMars world. Here, Logan is stable and strong. He's sweet and caring and exactly who we all knew he was capable of being. But earlier in the series, he was Neptune's obligatory psychotic jackass. He was cruel and careless and it would be easy to hate him. In real life, that's how it would have stayed. He wouldn't have changed. But the magic of fiction means anything is possible, so Logan and Veronica grow closer and closer and closer and he's constantly saving her ass. For me, it was always Veronica and Logan. I was never a Duncan fan (a character we have yet to see reappear) or a Troy fan and just FUCK Piz. I could see her staying with Leo, but it was always always Logan. He was such a tortured character with a twisted backstory and so much potential.
Logan & Veronica making out gif Logan & Veronica hugging gif
ANYWAY...enough of my fangirling. As Logan pertains to this novel, we don't get nearly enough of him. He's deploy as an Airman (I think? I'm pretty shitty at keeping up with the different divisions of the armed forces), so we get a handful of skyped conversations between him and Veronica.  Unfortunately he isn't actually present for the duration of this novel, but have no fear!  He is in a good bit of the next one (I'm a reliable source for that info 'cuz I've already read it).  Logan's just a character I can't help loving.  The fact that he seems to understand Veronica on a level no one else does makes it all the better.

Then we have Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie!
Cindy Mackenzie gif
She was one of my favorite characters in the show and I'm so psyched about her having a big presence in the novels.  She's probably smarter than Veronica and a computer genius.  She gave up a high paying job at Kane Software to work the PI gig with Veronica and even though the money isn't as good, she is obviously so much happier with this job.  She gets to hang with Veronica and put her computer skills to the test finding the missing details that just might help solve the case.  

Everyone else you'd expect to find shows up sooner or later.  Weevil, Keith (of course), Cliff, Leo, Wallace, Dick, the whole gang.  Hell, Veronica's mom even puts in a game-changing appearance.  I, personally, cannot get enough of Cliff McCormack.  He's just so funny!  I love him.  That doesn't really add much to the review, does it?  

Writing and plot-wise, this was interesting and perfect.  Veronica solves the crime and saves the day, but it doesn't necessarily go where you expect it to and there are some pretty great twists and turns.  I don't know if it was because of the fact that I listened to this on audio with Kristen or if it really was perfect, but this had that Veronica Mars feel that you can't find anywhere else.  The thing with the world of Veronica Mars is that even though the show wasn't extraordinarily long (3 seasons and a movie), you still had an undeniable understanding of each character.  I'm in it for the characters.  I have to connect with them, to want to take this journey with them and I would follow Veronica's story to the ends of the Earth, but it's not just Veronica.  Every single character is well-rounded and fleshed out completely.  They feel like old friends....I'm getting a bit off topic again, aren't I?  See, this is why I've been avoiding this review for months.  I knew I wouldn't be able to write it objectively.  My opinion of VMars will always be colored by my love of the show.  

All you really need to know is this: If you're a Marshmallow, this won't disappoint you.  The biggest difference between this and the show is that now they aren't on TV and can use a bit more language.  If don't know much about the show, then I'd suggest you start there.  This seems to written with enough background given that you can just jump in and make sense of it, but I feel like you won't have that deep abiding love for it if you read it cold.  Go forth and familiarize yourself with all things Neptune, California and then come back and prepare to be amazing.  Also, be glad that you are just now coming into the fandom, not forced to wait ten years between the show and the movie when the show ended at the worst possible moment.  TEAM LOGAN FOREVER!