Book Review: Death of a Trophy Wife by Laura Levine

death of a trophy wife Book Review: Death of a Trophy Wife by Laura Levine

Ill preface this review by saying that its likely that Ill lose a whole lot of literary cred by admitting how much I enjoyed this book. Perhaps its that my brain has been rather addled by all this month of MS Readathoning, or perhaps Im seeking a bit of brain fluff to prepare myself for the hard slog of literary fiction I have mounting up by the bed.

Or perhaps its that Jaine Austen, the hapless protagonist of this book, has a contract writing copy for a toilet company, and goodness, as a freelance writer, I can identify with that. (This section about how elevators work. Can you make it morecompelling? Can you make it exactly like this, but not exactly the same? The same, but different? But not quite? I need you to write some copy, but I cant tell you what I do because you might steal my ideas. Can you help me?)

No, Jaine, youre not alone in the world.

But if I thought I had it tough trying to figure out how to make concrete drilling copy sing, I was wrong. Poor Jaine spends her days being subjected to the sartorial advice of her shoe salesman friend Lance, torturing her body by attempting to eat at every single fast food joint in the state of California, and being wooed by an Uzbek would-be poet whose love for his pet goat Svetlana teeters at the very edge of the bestiality divide.

And on top of all of this, the wife of a potential client of Jaines cops it at a party. But Jaine, in true freelancer style, is determined not to let the contract slip through her fingersor Lance, the accused, head off to prison, something which would be rather dire for both his fashion sense and love lifeso on top of her already bizarre schedule she adds a bit of amateur investigating.

Oh, the shenanigans. Poor Jaine finds herself interrogating the tennis set, with the only upside to her efforts being that the affluent seem to have well-stocked pantries and dont mind placating her with doughnuts. Everyones a suspect, and then some, and Jaine seems to be facing a Sisyphean task in culling them. Theres the none-too-concerned millionaire husband, the snarky first wife, the son who had been having an affair with the deceased (er, prior to the being deceased bit), and perhaps, just perhaps, gadabout Lance. And thats just the first page of Janes hit list.

Ill admit that it took me a bit to get into the style of this novel, as its a little snarkier (and rather more Froot Loopy) than my usual reading material, and the characters are very deliberately over-the-top: its as though the author took a salient character trait and dialled it right up to unsafe levels. Once youve accepted that youre dealing with a cast of Paris Hiltons on steroids (and the odd Uzbek who I couldnt help but imagine as Sascha Baron-Cohen), and you start skipping the rather frequent conversations Jaine has with her cat, youll find yourself letting the zaniness wash over you like a tsunami of poor taste.

The mystery works quite well, although there are more red herrings than the tinned fish section of Safeway, and Jaines investigative style (which is rather hilariously frugalhey, she is a writer [why yes, this writer did download this ebook because it was free]) keeps things moving along and brings with it plenty of laughs as well.

But for me, the absolute winner of this book was the between-chapter interludes. Normally these dont do much for me, but I admit to laughing out loud (with perhaps the occasional ladylike snort, notes fiance) at the mini-story, told through emails, of Jaines dads efforts to win the local cook-off with a dish called Popalicious Chicken a la Hank (chicken stuffed with popcorn) cooked in a Danoz Direct-ordered device called the Turbomaster 500, and Jaines mothers efforts to put a stop to his culinary dreams. Oh Jaine, first you take my job, and then you take my parents. (But thank goodness my eating habits are better than yours)

Its patently ridiculous, its crude, and its littered with so many references to junk food that Im surprised that it hasnt been censored by a health organisation, but goodness, its worth it for the popalicious chicken alone.

Rating: ????? (excellent)

Purchase Death of a Trophy Wife from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA

This book was read as part of my participation in the MS Readathon, a charity event that supports multiple sclerosis research. If you would like to sponsor my efforts, you can do so'here. All donations are tax deductible.

Other books by Laura Levine:

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