ttdtlThe Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Vintage
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

From Rob Thomas, the creator of the television series and movie phenomenon Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling mystery series that picks up where the feature film left off. 

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark. With its sharp plot and clever twists, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Veronica Mars was once my favorite show, and it continues to hold a special place in my heart. I recommend it to everyone and I think the writing holds up (I don’t include season three when speaking of this; season three of VM is my Breaking Dawn: IT NEVER HAPPENED). The movie was like fan fic on my TV (I was a Kickstarter backer, so I got a copy of the digital version), and I loved every second of it. It’s hard for me to find fault in the movie or the book, because I am so blinded by fangirlish love for this show. This was my first fandom, and when I was really involved, there was so much good fic written, that the line between canon and fanon started to blur. Luckily, Logan and Veronica and everyone else are written exacty as I’d hoped they’d be–older, more mature, less angsty, more in control of their lives. Wallace and Mac are PERFECT and so true to voice and character. I’m so psyched that Rob Thomas helped write this instead of just using a writer, because he knows these characters. They’re his. So if you found imperfections in this novel, understand my critical reading skills went out the window as soon as I opened this book. Also, there will be hella spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie/don’t want to be spoiled, skip this one until later.

We open in Neptune, just after the movie ends. Keith is in physical therapy, Logan is on a ship somewhere with the Navy, and Veronica is getting back into the PI game. Keith is unhappy with her choice, but Veronica feels as though a long-lost piece of herself has been found. She immediately immerses herself in a big case, taking risks she shouldn’t, just like she did as a teenager in the series. The police force in Neptune is still terribly corrupt and incompetent, with all the decent officers gone and Sacks is dead. That makes me so sad still! Killed for trying to do the right thing sounds about right for Neptune. But I digress. Neptune is flooded with spring breakers from all over California, and young girls are starting to go missing. Mac uses her resourcefulness to dig up truly terrifying information about the house the girls were last seen at, and the trio–Veronica, Mac, and Wallace–are left needing a plan. A strong one. So while the case is taking over the business part of Veronica’s life, she is also struggling to rebuild her relationship with her father, who is confused and disappointed that she gave up her lawyer career before even taking the bar exam. There are some realities of the PI profession that Veronica doesn’t like, but Keith pushes her to accept them. “This is what it costs,” he says in chapter fourteen. Keith and Veronica have always had one of the best relationships on television, but they’ve had their rocky patches and this is one of them, definitely. And then we get a little surprise: Lianne Mars reappears, known now as Lianne Scott, the stepmother of one of the missing girls. (I hate Lianne Mars. In most fanfic, the author killed her off to make everyone’s lives easier.)

As with everything in Neptune, this case is difficult, dangerous, and intricate connected with other things. There are payoffs, drugs, and real estate. And Veronica hasn’t outgrown her biggest PI problem–she’s bad at calling for backup. Wanting to spare her friends is such a Veronica thing, and she hasn’t left this behind. Maybe if Logan were around, she’d have asked him, but his fame didn’t always lend itself well to discretion and secrecy. I missed Logan a lot in this book, because he could have balanced Veronica out. Veronica still has weird ideas about relationships, at one point saying something like “big girls don’t discuss their feelings.” Typical Veronica Mars. It gets harder to recap/review when they really sink their teeth into the mystery, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who the bad guy was (and since this is Neptune, there are a lot of bad guys. The trick is finding the right one). And remember, this is noir, so things don’t always have a happy ending. Which works for me, because that’s life. Life is not a cute romance tied in a bow. Life is babies and breakups and marriages and cancer, it’s a mix of everything. And sometimes, people don’t live very long.

Bottom line: if you watched this show, you’ll like this book. Everyone is true to character, the mystery is just something that would happen in Neptune, and a slew of familiar characters show up. Recommend!