Although it’s better than her friend Kandi Tobolowsky’s TV gig on Beanie and the Cockroach, writing freelance ad copy for Toiletmaster Plumbers (“In a Rush to Flush?”) isn’t the most fulfilling life aspiring screenwriter Jaine Austen can imagine. So when geeky Howard Murdoch, who hired her to write a love letter to his aerobics instructor Stacy Lawrence, is charged with opening his first date with Stacy by bashing her head in with a Thighmaster, Jaine can’t resist the urge to investigate. First of all, it’s practically her fault Howard got arrested; if her letter hadn’t referred to Howard’s “Uncle Rupert,” calculating Stacy (who’d thrown over hunky Devon MacRae for a fling with married talent agent Andy Bruckner) wouldn’t have given him another. Second, she can’t resist the opportunity to push smug LAPD homicide detective Timothy Rea’s buttons. But third and foremost, investigating Stacy’s murder brings Jaine cheek by sexy jowl with Stacy’s adorable blue-eyed neighbor Cameron Bannick, an antiques dealer who—if he doesn’t turn out to be gay—is the answer to every maiden’s prayer. So Jaine is willing to flash bogus credentials at Stacy’s neighbors, hoping cranky psychiatric nurse Elaine Zimmer or horny building superintendent Daryush Kolchev will have some clue to the owner of the black BMW parked outside Stacy’s apartment the night her muscles finally went slack. But all the fake ID in the world can’t protect Jaine from the genuine menace of a killer with a lethal secret to protect.
A neat mystery debut, untidily wrapped in so-so romance.