The $3,000 fee charged by freelance writer Jaine Austen (Shoes to Die For, 2005, etc.) doesn’t begin to compensate for the psychic travail of working for a bitchy high-school classmate.
Patti Marshall sat at the popular table in the Hermosa High cafeteria. Jaine, on the other hand, is best remembered for her swan dive into the principal’s lap at the prom. But at the urging of her MasterCard bill, Jaine agrees to write the wedding vows for Patti’s lollapalooza of a wedding to Dickie Potter, a former nerd who turned out kinda sexy. A dozen rewrites later, Patti returns to her original theme: a reworking of Shakespeare’s balcony scene. Only someone has tampered with this balcony, and Patti tumbles lawnward, where she’s impaled on a specially imported statue of Cupid. Suspicion naturally falls on Normalynne Potter, the wife Dickie kicked to the curb for Patti. But there are plenty of other possibilities: Cheryl Hogan, the bridesmaid Patti nixed as too fat; Dickie’s protective mom Eleanor; even Veronica Hubbard, the caterer who endured Patti’s complaints that the fish was too “fishy” and the lamb chops were too “lamby.” And Jaine aims to confront them all, even as she’s ducking the unwanted advances of Walter Barnhardt, a former Hermosa High nerd who turned out kinda nerdy.
A better ratio of clues to red herrings would be nice, but Jaine’s inner monologues are worth the price of admission to this sad, funny stroll down memory lane.