Book Review: Veronica Mars – The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas


I think everyone can relate to the hopeless feeling of one of your favorite things disappearing – the discontinuation of a favorite ice cream flavor, style of jeans, or, of course, the cancelation of a TV series you love. Veronica Mars fans know that feeling well, but 2014 has presented a veritable wonderland of goodies for Veronica Mars fans – there’s the much-publicized Kickstarter-financed movie, of course, and now the potential for even more Mars movies down the road. But here’s a fun tidbit that many fans may have missed: the show’s creator, Rob Thomas, is collaborating on a series of Veronica Mars books, starting with The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.

Tan Line picks up with Veronica shortly after the events at the end of the movie, skillfully tying up a few loose ends and introducing some new drama alongside the mystery at its core. There’s a feeling of anxiety that comes from experiencing a world and characters you’re so familiar with in a different context. But The Thousand Dollar Tan Line clearly benefits from Thomas’s direct involvement. Right off the bat you get the patented Veronica Mars vibe. It feels very much like watching an episode arc of the show as you read, and though the book is written in third person Veronica’s voice absolutely comes through.

The mystery Veronica is dealing with revolves around the cases of two teenage girls who go missing during spring break festivities in Neptune. The mystery itself is very well-conceived – much like the show, there are hints dropped along the way but there are also plenty of clever twists to keep readers guessing. There are also a few personal issues Veronica is dealing with – mainly, her strained relationship with her father since choosing to return to Neptune rather than pursue a career as a lawyer in New York City, but also something else too spoilery to mention. And blessedly, there is very little Logan in this book. That might be sad for some people but I was eternally grateful for it. Team Piz all the way!

I was really impressed with how well The Thousand Dollar Tan Line fit in to the Veronica Mars canon, especially in terms of functioning as both a standalone story and fitting in with the bigger picture. One of the things I always enjoyed about the TV series was its ability to be funny and flippant but also get quite dark and very personal. Tan Line pulls off that delicate balance beautifully.

While Veronica was never really known for steering clear of dangerous situation as a teenage detective, it’s a bit different dealing with adult Veronica, because it’s even easier for her to find herself in compromising situations. It was fun for me to see Veronica in a few high-stakes situations throughout the book, including a couple pretty terrifying encounters. Veronica’s age opens up the possibilities a little bit in terms of what she’s able to take on and accomplish, and I really enjoyed getting a preview of those possibilities.

Nothing will quite replace Veronica Mars as a TV series, but I can’t help but feel amazingly grateful that the Veronica Mars world is still alive and kicking in one way or another, and I highly recommend The Thousand Dollar Tan Line to any Mars  fan – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well the content translates, how authentic the story feels, and how wonderful it is to get to experience new mysteries with Veronica for the first time.

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