Book Reviews · Mystery

Death of a Gigolo

I love the new book section of my public library! My local library always does a great job of stocking exciting new titles, both fiction and nonfiction, and I usually find myself perusing the shelves every time I drop in to pick up and return books. My last trip to the library was just a few days ago, and I walked in with every intention of just grabbing my books and heading out without taking additional time to browse. And then I saw this, displayed on the top of the shelves that house the new releases…

I ask you, with a title like that, how was I supposed to walk away without at least reading the summary?

Laura Levine’s Death of a Gigolo is the seventeenth book of her Jaine Austen Mystery series, a fact I didn’t realize until after I was already about halfway through the book. Fortunately, I didn’t need to have read any of the other books in the series to enjoy this one.

Jaine Austen (no relation to the author of Pride and Prejudice) is a freelance writer who has been hired by an extremely wealthy woman, named Daisy Kincaid, to assist her in writing a romance novel with the somewhat dubious title of Fifty Shades of Turquoise. Not only is Jaine offered a substantial amount of money for her work, but she is also given office space in Daisy’s home and frequently invited to join her employer for gourmet lunches.

Not long after Jaine is hired, Daisy becomes enamored with a younger man named Tommy, who insinuates himself into her life, home, and financial affairs. As Tommy begins to make huge changes in the running and finances of the Kincaid mansion, he becomes increasingly hated by every member of the household staff, as well as by Daisy’s friends. After an argument in which Tommy fired Daisy’s personal assistant, he is found dead in his tanning bed, stabbed with the pocket knife Daisy had given him. With so many possible suspects, Jaine has a lot of work to do to uncover the killer…and that’s on top of finishing Daisy’s romance novel.

There were several things I absolutely loved about this book. Death of a Gigolo was very funny, and a quick read. While the mystery of Tommy’s murder is the focus of the book, there are several times when solving the mystery has to take a backseat to Jaine’s personal life. Throughout the book, Jaine receives several email messages from both her mother and father, who have a tendency to tell vastly different sides of the same story.

Jaine also deals with some romance of her own in the book. Her ex-husband, claiming he has turned his life around, wants to be part of Jaine’s life once again. His interactions with her cat, whose name is Prozac, are some of the funniest moments in the book (especially if you have a cat yourself).

The only thing that struck me as odd was a tendency Jaine had of addressing the reader directly. Since this was the first time I’d read one of the Jaine Austen Mystery novels, I don’t know if that is something done consistently throughout the rest of the series. I’ve seen authors do this before, and usually it doesn’t faze me, but this time was a little different.

On one occasion, when Jaine was explaining that another character had actually used a more controversial word to describe Tommy, she said, “Okay, so ‘fink’ wasn’t the ‘F’ word she used, but this is a family novel, so I’m keeping it clean” (Levine 46). I was totally on board with Levine keeping Death of a Gigolo free from F-bombs, but Jaine’s acknowledgement that she was in a novel kind of threw me for a minute. I was easily able to slide back into the story, however, and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the novel.

At this point, I don’t know that I will try to go back and read the entire series from the very beginning, but I would definitely be interested in reading more of Levine’s Jaine Austen Mystery books. I really enjoyed the characters and humor, and the mystery kept me guessing.

If you’re planning to participate in next year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, Death of a Gigolo will fulfill a few reading prompts, including: “a book with a great first line,” “a book you meant to read in 2019,” and “a book you picked because the title caught your attention.” If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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