Los Angeles greeting-card artist Wollie Shelley is dating forty men in sixty days as research for a radio talk show host's upcoming book, How to Avoid Getting Dumped All the Time.
Even Stephanie Plum's antics will seem sedate after readers make the acquaintance of Los Angeles's own Wollie Shelley, greeting card designer and small business owner. Wollie is dating 40 men in 60 days as part of a research project for a bestselling radio personality; the $5,000 fee could help her struggling store, "Wollie's Welcome! Greetings." In particular, Wollie's worried about inspections from national headquarters, who want to ensure that her franchise is up to standard. Her already full plate gets loaded up further when her paranoid schizophrenic brother, P.B., who resides at a mental hospital called Rio Pescado, phones to tell her he's witnessed a murder. The last thing Wollie wants is to call the police, so she dashes off to Rio Pescado. On the way she finds a dead body. At the hospital she picks up a charismatic stranger, "Doc," who's on the run, and Wollie can't help getting herself mixed up in his troubles as well. Juggling dates, avoiding the bad guys on Doc's trail, trying to keep her store up to snuff and figuring out what to feed the ferret Doc left in her care have Wollie hopping at a pace reminiscent of the best 1930s screwball film comedies. Kozak has struck gold first time out with a wacky, high-octane plot and characters to match. Agent, Amy Schiffman. (Jan. 20) Forecast: As an actress whose screen credits include Parenthood and When Harry Met Sally, Kozak is in a good position to promote this first novel, especially on the West Coast. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Dating Dead Men by Harley Jane Kozak
It was a cigarette burn.
I could scarcely have been more shocked if I'd discovered it on my own flesh, appearing out of nowhere, like stigmata. But it wasn't on me. It was on my grass green carpet, Aisle 3, Condolences/Get Well Soon, where I knelt, rooted in horror.
"Dear God," I said. "Dear God. Dear God."
"Girl, get a grip," Fredreeq called out, barging through the front door of my shop, Wollie's Welcome! Greetings. "I can hear those 'Dear Gods' all the way out to the parking lot. Did someone die? Is it Mr. Bundt? Please tell me Mr. Bundt died and I can take the day off and go to the beach."
"He's not dead. He's due here any minute. I was doing the final Dustbusting, and look, look--" I waved at the carpet. "At the last inspection, Mr. Bundt questioned the decor. I told him it was French Provincial. I can't pass this off as French Provincial."
"No." Fredreeq loomed over me. "Cigarette burns are strictly Trailer Park. White Trash, no offense." She leaned down, sending a wave of Shalimar my way. "That's one hell of a burn. That is the mother of all cigarette burns. That's a cigar burn."
I looked up at my friend and employee, took in her attire, and said it again. "Dear God."