If good fences made good neighbors, ad writer Jaine Austen (Pampered to Death, 2011, etc.) would need the Berlin Wall to cope with the nutty crew that surrounds her South Beverly Hills rental.
No, she doesn’t want to hand out campaign flyers for Lila Wood, running for town council on an anti-development platform. Nor does she want to referee the constant fights between Helen and Harold Hurlbutt across the street. Or look at pricey condos in realtors Matt and Kevin Moore’s his-and-hers BMWs. (Despite her manly name, Kevin’s a she.) So how does Jaine get roped into planting petunias for crabby old Eleanor Jenkins, whose 15 minutes of fame as Cryptessa Muldoon in the one-season series I Married a Zombie would be long gone if everyone didn’t keep calling her Cryptessa? Probably because a hungry look from Jaine’s cat, Prozac, sends the actress’ beloved parakeet, Van Helsing, to bird heaven, and Jaine’s a pushover for anything that punches her guilt button. She’s also a pushover for Snickers bars, cinnamon raisin bagels and the cleft on the chin of her newest neighbor, literary agent Peter Connor. Jaine’s bud Lance Venable’s gaydar tells him that Lance isn’t a gene-pool candidate, but Jaine thinks Peter may be close to hitting on her. So she rents a cute flapper outfit for Peter’s Halloween party, only to find that Lance has switched it out for an ape suit—the very same costume Emmeline Owens sees on whoever sticks a “No Trespassing” sign through Cryptessa’s tiny heart. Now Jaine has two puzzles to ponder: Is Peter available or isn’t he, and who’s trying to frame her for murder?
Levine’s latest finds her at her witty and wacky best.