This is the second book in the “New York Times bestselling series” and it continues on from where The Thousand Dollar Tan Line left off. It opens with Eli “Weevil” Navarro receiving a not guilty verdict in relation to the Celeste Kane incident in the movie and then being convinced by Keith Mars and Cliff McCormack to pursue a civil case against the Sheriff’s Department because of the planted evidence. While they are preoccupied with that, Veronica is again hired by the Neptune Grand (as she was in the first book), or more accurately their insurance company, to determine whether or not one of their employees was responsible for the rape and bashing of a nineteen-year-old girl on the hotel’s premises.
It’s a case of déjà vu for Veronica and the readers as the victim turns out to be someone from her past, very reminiscent of the first book in which her mother reappeared with a new half-brother.
Logan is on shore leave from the Navy and contemplating a permanent position in San Diego, much to Veronica’s relief, so we see a lot more of him, but he is vastly underused. And all the other regulars who appear to be wasting their lives and their talents in Neptune make an appearance: Mac, Wallace, Lamb, Leo, Madison Sinclair, Inga and a few more.
The second book, unfortunately, suffers from the same problems the first did. The Sheriff’s Department essentially refuses to investigate the crime when the victim refuses to tell them who her older, married boyfriend – who wasn’t even at the scene of the crime – is. Veronica spends a reasonable amount of time again justifying her decision to become a private investigator in Neptune. And the bad guy seems fairly obvious from fairly early on but Veronica ignores investigating a lead until there are literally no others left. When she finally gets around to it, she has her man. And then the circus of amateurish and illegal evidence gathering begins.
When all the inadmissible-in-court proof is in hand, Veronica finally enlists real law enforcement to do what she can’t and then somehow manages to embroil them in above-the-law activities as well. The resultant court case and conviction isn’t shown but surely any lawyer worth their fee would be able to get the guy off on a technicality.
From about half way through, I started wondering why Veronica didn’t just join a law enforcement agency. But the authors have spent so long trying to justify why she hasn’t that I don’t think they could logically be able to justify it if she did. But then again, logic doesn’t always take pride of place in these books.
The previous book at least had one chapter that reminded the reader of Veronica’s ingenuity but it’s completely missing from this mystery. And the ending annoyed me again. As Logan contemplates his future, Veronica contemplates a future without him and with another former flame instead. She only contemplates it but it’s enough to infuriate LOVEshippers. Because this isn’t the Veronica Mars viewers of the television show and the movie know and love. And viewers generally know when it’s time to end the love affair – ratings confirm it. We got one final fling with the movie and whoever owns the rights is trying to keep it going but every attempt just diminishes the former achievements.
What this series really needs is stories with genuine mystery that require actual sleuthing skills to solve them and a sense that Veronica’s life, and the lives of all the characters around her, are moving forward instead of just remaining stagnant and static.
Wow, and I thought I was harsh with my review of the first book. But I’m disappointed. I wanted this series to be so much better than it is so I could continue getting my Veronica Mars fix. It’s not to be.
*First published on Goodreads 4 October 2015