Home > Book Review > Blog Book Review: “Veronica Mars: An Original Mystery: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line”

Blog Book Review: “Veronica Mars: An Original Mystery: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line”


I try to keep my book reviews spoiler free, but when you’re discussing a book that takes place after the events of a feature film that can be tough. So let’s get that out of the way right now. If you haven’t seen the “Veronica Mars” feature film stop reading this review right now and rectify that mistake. It’s really good and it’ s now available on both DVD and on demand services like Amazon Instant Watch. So go on! Shoo! Come back when you’re done.  You’ll be glad you did.

Okay, so everybody else left reading this has seen the movie and if you haven’t you’ve been warned. I loved the television show “Veronica Mars.” I loved it so much that I contributed $10 to the Kickstarter for the feature film (I would have contributed more but I didn’t have much to spare at the time). It was $10 well spent. I loved it. It was a love letter to the fans of the show and left the title character and her fictional hometown of Neptune, California in an interesting place. Veronica’s father had been almost killed investigating the rampant corruption in Neptune’s Sheriff Department. After being shot by Celeste Kane and framed for pulling a gun on her Eli “Weevil” Navarro seemingly returned to motorcycle gang leading ways. And Veronica had stopped fighting her destiny and decided  to take over the family business.

So that set up made me very excited to read the “Thousand Dollar Tan Line” even though it’s titleRob-Thomas-Veronica-Mars-Image-3 was a little underwhelming and suggested something more light hearted. I was also a little sad that the book wasn’t going to be told in classic first person style P.I. manner. I would have certainly bought the Kristen Bell read audio book if that was the case.  Those two things turned out to be minor drawbacks though because Veronica Mars first novel turned out to be just as fun and exciting as an episode of the show or another movie.

In “The Thousand Dollar Tan Line” spring break has come to Neptune. College co-eds and tourists are flocking to the Northern California town for wild, hedonistic bacchanalia and the Sheriff’s department is content to make the Chamber of Commerce happy and turn a blind eye to the wild displays of excess. When a pretty college co-ed disappears and a cable news pundit begins crucifying the town’s inept sheriff the Chamber of Commerce is forced to act. So they hire Veronica.

Veronica’s initial investigation leads her to a shady, mysterious party and then when things escalate and another girl disappears a shocking figure from her past walks back into her life. Veronica’s investigation puts her up against a number of interesting and formidable adversaries including two wealthy business men with connections to Mexican drug cartel and a person who just might be her opposite number.

jennifer-grahamDealing with these characters and the investigation of course means Veronica will interact with the members of her great supporting cast. Mac and Wallace remain her faithful confidants, and her dad Keith Mars tries to come to terms with what it means to have Veronica officially join him in the family business. Those were some of my favorite scenes Keith Mars is right up there with “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s” Ben Sisko as one of the greatest fictional single dads.

Logan plays a small role in the book because as the film established, he’s now in the Navy and he and Veronica are in a long distance relationship. As someone who is currently in a long distance relationship I especially appreciated those scenes. Authors  Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham really captured the excitement and anxiety of those moments where you’re waiting for your significant other to come online and brighten your day.

“The Thousand Dollar Tan Line” also involves a number of other returning characters, some that appeared in the movie and some that didn’t, and watching Veronica interact with them and the book’s new cast is a lot of fun. The novel is expertly paced, full of one great dialogue, and is a genuinely great and legitimate P.I./crime novel. I’m not surprised either while I’ve not read any of their previous work both Thomas (who created “Veronica Mars”) and Graham have published other books.

So if you’re a “Veronica Mars” fan do yourself a favor and pick up “The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.” It doesn’t really touch on some of the ongoing plot lines left over from the movie, but it’s a great return to Neptune and it’s fascinating cast of characters. Plus I have hope that those elements will come more into focus in a possible sequel to the film or the next “Veronica Mars” novel “Mr. Kiss and Tell” which is set to be released in October.

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