Last spring the world was in a lovely state of Veronica Mars renaissance, encouraged by the release of the kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars movie. But in addition to the movie, fans also gained access to a less-publicized Veronica Mars treat, in the form of a new book series written by show creator Rob Thomas in collaboration with author Jennifer Graham. I reviewed the first book in the series, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, last year and was happily surprised at how well it maintained the vibe of the TV show. This time around I’m tackling book number two, Mr. Kiss and Tell.
Much like the first book, Mr. Kiss and Tell continues with the progression of large plot points introduced in the movie and weaves them into a standalone mystery that is solved by the end of the book. The grander plot involves the continued attempts of Veronica and Keith to expose the corrupt Neptune police department, which involves trying to convince Weevil to testify that a cop planted a gun on him when he was framed for Celeste Kane’s carjacking. But the more interesting mystery here is that of a woman who is founded beaten nearly to death after a mysterious night at the Neptune Grand. Veronica is enlisted to track down the attacker, but the case is full of dead ends and false leads.
I generally have high expectations for Veronica Mars mysteries, because throughout the series the majority of the mysteries were intricate, complex enough to stay interesting but not overly-complicated, and perfectly peppered with believable twists and red herrings. Mr. Kiss and Tell does not disappoint – and, in fact, I thought the mystery here was stronger and more in line with canon than the core mystery in The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, which makes this book a step even further in the right direction.
In addition, the ambiance of the show and the nature of the characters is really nicely translated to the page. Even though I miss Veronica’s first person perspective, there’s enough of her voice in the narrative that her trademark wit comes through. The same is true for the side characters, although they are relegated to the background for the most part so you just get a touch of Mac’s sarcasm or Wallace’s loyal reluctance here and there throughout the book.
The show had such a lovely balance of heart, intelligence and humor that I’m happy to report comes through beautifully in the books as well. Veronica Mars is unique in that it manages to simultaneously contain subtle and not-so-subtle social and political commentary, and I really liked how Mr. Kiss and Tell maintained this lovely balance while dealing with the important subject of sexual assault. The major reason Veronica is so invested in the case is because it deals with sexual assault and law enforcement’s lack of action relative to it; using Veronica’s personal experience as a tool to relate to the victim is both thought-provoking and poignant.
The one thing that turned me off on this book was the Logan storyline. I might be in the minority here; a lot of fans might appreciate or even love how he takes on a larger role in this book, but I really just can’t stand the guy. Every chapter that focused on Veronica and Logan’s relationship either bored me or disgusted me, so by the end I started skimming. Fortunately the ratio of Logan stuff to everything else is still fairly minimal, but it went way past my threshold for dealing with it.
But let’s not get hung up on that little hiccup! Overall I really enjoyed Mr. Kiss and Tell and I’m hopeful this promising series will continue to give fans an opportunity to hang out with Veronica and the gang.