The Sunday Review: THE THOUSAND DOLLAR TAN LINE – Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark. With its sharp plot and clever twists, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line will keep you guessing until the very last page.Goodreads


**WARNING: I tried to avoid spoilers, but this does give away a few minor hints about both the movie and the book. Proceed with caution.

If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention to my ramblings, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Veronica Mars. The TV show – which ran for 3 seasons and went of the air a decade ago – was one I binged watched after the fact, and led to some pretty nasty withdrawal. Not helped at all by its abrupt and unresolved ending. There was a lot of, “But Veronica and Logan belong together! How could they just leave it like that??” going on. Along with your typical, “Wait. So you’re telling me this excellently written, brilliantly acted, hilarious show is cancelled, but we get yet another season of Desperate Housewives? Ugh. Pass the ice cream. And the big spoon.”
It wasn’t pretty.

So obviously I was super excited to hear that a movie was forthcoming – finally, closure! But not only that – a book was also in the works. Possibly a series. 

You guys, I don’t think I’ve ever been that happy for a book announcement in my entire life.
Minus the weird hair and ugly sweater, obvs.

The next however many months of waiting were torture. I re-watched the whole series no less than twice. I watched and re-watched the movie trailer. And I waited. And waitd.

Finally, the time arrived – both the movie and first book were set to be released within a couple of weeks of one another, and I was all set for a Mars-a-thon.

I don’t really do movie reviews, but I’ll hazard a few lines. The movie was set about 10 years after the TV show ended. Veronica’s life has changed a lot – but also stayed strangely the same. She’s a lawyer, about to take the bar and accept a high-paying job at a New York law firm. She is also, however, still dating Piz. Which seemed a bit WTF to me, but sure, whatever.
I love Piz. But 10 years? Hmmm.

Of course, the movie’s drama begins with a call from Logan asking for help. He’s the prime suspect in the suspicious death of his singer girlfriend and wants Veronica to dabble in her old PI skills and help him out.

The movie goes on from there. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, so I won’t get into specifics. But suffice it to say that the story was up to your typical V Mars standard – intrigue, danger, sassiness. Some of the personal stuff did fall a bit flat for me. I didn’t really buy the whole relationship drama and how it went down, and it kind of ruined the end result for me a bit. Hopefully that’s cryptic enough for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about and decipherable for those of you who do know what I’m talking about. You know what I mean. 

Oh, don’t give me that look.

Though not exactly what I was expecting, the movie did set the book up perfectly. It starts off literally right where the movie ends (so this is your friendly reminder to watch the movie first, or the book will spoil it big time). Veronica’s back working as a PI in Neptune with her less than thrilled dad. And taking on a new and dangerous case involving some missing spring breakers. There are a few big twists and turns and surprise appearances of characters from the show that I won’t spoil for you. 

As for the writing and feel of the book… well, you know when a book you love is made into a movie, and you’re nervous that they won’t get the feel of it right or that they’ll change the characters too much? The same goes for the reverse. Taking Veronica from the screen to the page had the potential to fail big time. But I think because Rob Thomas wrote the show and knows the characters inside out, this transition was fairly seamless. It felt and sounded just like the show in my head as I was reading. He got the humour right, the story arc, the relationships and even Veronica’s don’t-mess-with-me, have no fear ‘tude.

The only thing I struggled with was the gap in time. While I get that the movie had to skip ahead because all of the actors were older, the gap in time made it awkward. That Veronica was still with Piz – 9 years later – was weird enough. But then trying to find a way to shove her back into her old self (complete with the same, trademark studded shoulder bag) was even harder to pull off.
 Yeah, THAT bag.

I think it would have worked so much better to do the books first – since they could literally pick up where the TV show left off – and then the movie. I don’t know if that would have worked logistically, but it would have allowed for a more realistic lead-in to 10 years later. It also could have resolved those plot points that were left dangling. Veronica and Logan could have sorted their shit out without her love life being stalled 9 years later.
 So did we, Logan. So did we.

And it could have finished up the Castle storyline which had so much promise of intrigue and danger.

Alas, that’s not how it went down. Which is a little bit disappointing. But regardless of the time issues and subsequent plot limitations, I enjoyed both the book and movie. I’ll take whatever Veronica Mars I can get, and this definitely did fill that void. And now that we’re past the awkward catch-up phase, I can just sit back and enjoy VMars, PI-style. I’ll be first in line for book 2 (and I’m crossing my fingers for a Nancy Drew long book series).


Book Title: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line
Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Series: Veronica Mars #1
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Vintage
Released: March 25, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Humour
Pages: 324
Date Read: March 25-30, 2014
Rating: 9/10

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