Jane Bites Back–Michael Thomas Ford

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This is such a fun book. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

In this book, Jane Austen (yes, the real one) is alive and well in a small town in the modern day, the result of being turned into a vampire by Lord Byron. She makes a living as a small bookseller, despite her ongoing annoyance at the proliferation of all things Austen that she, obviously, cannot get a piece of.

There’s a local widower with a crush on her that she’d like to date but she has to move around every couple of decades so no one notices that she isn’t aging, which precludes a long-term relationship.

Also, after all these years, Lord Byron has tracked her down. He’s looking for a relationship and isn’t above blackmail to force her into one.

Her final book, the one written before she was turned into a vampire, has finally, after all these years and hundreds of rejections, been accepted for publication. This triggers a wide range of problems.

First, she has to invent a past for herself. Then, she has to survive the heat of cameras (not good for vampires) and meetings with other authors and fans.

As it turns out, she’s not the only famous author living life as a vampire. Lord Byron had famously comprehensive tastes, after all. But not all of them are handling eternal life as well as she is, and her recent publicity brings one of the less well-balanced ones out of the woodwork.

Jane Austen juggles modern life, competitors, publishing, and vampirism. It’s fun and playful.

H is for Homicide–Sue Grafton

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I’ve read all of these books, except for the newest release, “X is For…” but I recently re-read this one as a way to get my head back in the mindset of this series before the new book.

*side note*

I met the author this past week at a book signing. She is completely lovely. I cannot say enough nice things about her. She sat and had a brief conversation with every single person there, made me feel like I was the only person there when it was my turn, and they tell me that she stayed until every book was signed. Full points for customer service.

*end side note*

These books are all set in the 80s and follow a female private investigator in a town called Santa Theresa, California, which is clearly meant to be Santa Barbara. She gets an office at a local insurance company in exchange for doing some investigation on potential insurance fraud cases.

In this book, we start with the discovery of one of the insurance investigators dead body at the office. It’s disturbing and distressing to her, for obvious reasons, but they push onward. Then an efficiency expert comes in and makes it clear that her time there is limited, but she has a case she figures she can wrap up for them before he actually fires her.

But the case goes to hell almost immediately.

They suspect this woman, Bibianna, of faking a car accident. Her only address is a post office box, she got insurance right before the accident, there are no witnesses, and all her injuries are soft-tissue and hard to prove or disprove.

Our detective, Kinsey, starts by tracking down her real address and making contact. Then she follows Bibi when she goes out for the night. She convinces Bibi she’s just a regular person, hanging out and making friends, and so when Bibi is tracked down by some bad guys and there’s a shootout that kills one of the bad guys, both Kinsey and Bibi go to jail.

The cops tell Kinsey that Bibi is affiliated with a nutcase who is running a massive insurance scam throughout California, with an entire group of people who fake accidents all day long, and tell her they’ll wire her and follow her if she can stay with Bibi when they’re released and lead them to the kingpin, the aforementioned nutcase, Raymond.

But there’s an epic mistake and she’s neither wired nor followed. Instead, she ends up captive with Bibi at the hands of Raymond, who is desperately in love with Bibi and not at all sane or functional.

This is, I think, a solid entry into this series. There were a couple of wobbles in this series a little later on, R and S, I think, but nearly all of these books are really well done and entertaining.