Book Review : Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham - Mr. Kiss and Tell (2015)
Should Veronica Mars be granted a second life? That is the question every fan have been asking themselves since the abrupt cancellation of the original series in 2007. The cavalry remained silent for several years and gave sign of life in 2014 with the production of a Kickstarter movie project and freakin' novels! How exciting is that? Well, the first novel The Thousand Dollar Tan Line wasn't quite the exciting revival fans were promised, but it fortunately didn't stop there. There is another Veronica Mars novel titled Mr. Kiss and Tell, which I also happen to have read. How is it? This review will tell you everything you need to know...
Mr. Kiss and Tell is set a short while after the events of The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Weevil is being tried for the events of the movie and Veronica is trying to support her reluctant friend the best she can. In the midst of the verdict, she is contacted by Petra Landros again and tasked with investigating a rape that allegedly happened at the Neptune Grand Hotel. The victim claims an hotel employee raped her. Only problem is that the employee matching the description has been deported to Mexico months prior the assault. What happened exactly on that fateful night? Who is telling the truth and who is lying? Once again, Veronica Mars find herself caught in the city of Neptune's web of lies and will have to figure out the truth on her own.
Well, I'm happy to announce that Mr. Kiss and Tell is a superior novel to The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Because the gang's all here, this time. The rape investigation plot unveils some of Neptune's most upstanding citizens involvement with an online prostitution service, but it's not all. So, that unhealthy and incestuous atmosphere I was talking about in my review of The Thousand Dollar Tan Line is definitely present in Mr. Kiss and Tell. Neptune has so little people and so many secrets, it's difficult not to stumble upon them. There is also a killer subplot involving a potential lawsuit against the sheriff's office that beats the regulars out of the bushes. Mr. Kiss and Tell feels more like a Veronica Mars adventure, it has a more ambitious narrative structure with dueling storylines and a greater scope than its predecessor. What's not to like?
So, Mr. Kiss and Tell is great for about 180 pages. I was seriously considering a five star rating on Goodreads up to that point. Only problem is that it's 300 pages-long. What happened? Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham made the bold decision to turn their mystery into a thriller halfway in and it doesn't quite work. How does one do that? They reveal the identity of the rapist a little over halfway into the novel. The last half becomes then a confrontation rather than an investigation. At that precise moment, the pace of Mr. Kiss and Tell hits a wall. The rapist Veronica and friends were looking for isn't that much of an interesting or nuanced character, so there's a lot of time spent preparing for a boogeyman that doesn't exist. If you go down that route and turn a mystery into a thriller, you better have the scariest antagonist and the most spectacular confrontation to back it up, otherwise you're just trying to have your cake and eat it too.
So yeah, this Veronica Mars venture into literature was on the way to finds its legs after two novels. It was not completely there yet, but Jennifer Graham was starting to figure out what she could do and not go with the characters. It seems to have been cut short since, though. Mr. Kiss and Tell was released on January of 2015 and it will soon be three years without any new material. Will we ever see new Veronica Mars novels? Not sure if it's a good idea. There seems to be a lot of institutional red tape around the intellectual property and while The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell were kind of enjoyable, maybe we should call it a day and enjoy Veronica Mars for what she's given us instead of greedily ask for new material all the time.