Wollie Shelley--the endearing, idiosyncratic heroine of the award-winning Dating Dead Men and Dating Is Murder--returns in a funny murder mystery set in the world of television soaps.
When David Zetrakis, the producer of a popular soap opera, is found shot to death the day after Christmas, Wollie Shelley finds herself caught up in the murder investigation. Zetrakis was one of the many Mr. Wrongs in Wollie's career as a serial dater, and her friend Joey has emerged as the media's prime suspect. A hot-tempered celebrity who had dated Zetrakis and was fired from his show some years ago, Joey has inherited a million-dollar Klimt from him. But Joey is not the only potential suspect. Zetrakis left lots of nice bequests to the cast and crew of the show. And as the dating correspondent on a talk show called SoapDirt, Wollie, who's required to dine and dish with the stars, quickly discovers that the behind-the-scenes intrigues of television soaps are as highly charged as the on-screen shenanigans.
When Wollie is not trying to protect Joey from an onslaught of predatory reporters, she's helping her brother make the transition from a mental hospital to a halfway house and negotiating her relationship with Simon, her FBI-agent boyfriend. Dead Ex is another full-out romp of a mystery sure to please Kozak's many fans--and win her many new ones, too.
Holy Hollywood! In actor-turned-author Kozak's witty third crime caper (after 2005's Dating Is Murder), wild Wollie Shelley must solve the cold-blooded murder of terminally ill David Zetrakis, producer of the popular TV soap At the End of the Day. Tall, unarmed and sometimes very dangerous if provoked, Wollie's an underemployed greeting card artist who starts moonlighting as the dating correspondent for the talk show SoapDirt. Getting the dirt on David's killer, however, proves to be a major challenge. Wollie and her best friend, fellow Day actress Joey Rafferty, had both dated David, and Joey becomes the LAPD's top suspect when it turns out David bequeathed her a valuable Gustav Klimt painting. Wollie's faith in her friend is further tested when Joey's husband dies in a suspicious surfing accident and Joey disappears. A Greek mythology twist and crackling insider insight into the fascinating soap opera world enhance this clever whodunit. (Aug.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
August 07, 2007
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Dead Ex by Harley Jane Kozak
Men, in my experience, do not like being interrupted during sex by a ringing telephone. I suppose it's true for women too. It's true for me, anyhow, which is why I never have a telephone in my bedroom.
In late December, however, I had no bedroom. I was sharing one with a guy named Simon Alexander, along with two cell phones, two answering machines, a landline, computer, TV, radio, surround-sound system, beeper, clock, printer-fax-copier, and smoke alarm, all of which had interfered with romantic moments, although some only when one of us rolled over onto a remote.
There was also a gun, occupying the bedside table. The gun hadn't interrupted anything yet, but I'd been living there only a couple of weeks.
Simon was an FBI agent.
We were in the thick of things that late Friday afternoon, in a sweaty, muscle-clenching, heart-pounding clinch, when a click from across the room reminded me I'd turned off the ringer on the phone. Simon's arm tightened around me.
"Wollie," the answering machine said. "Pick up. Wollie."
Simon's grip loosened. It wasn't a national emergency. Despite his technical sophistication, he preferred an answering machine to voice mail for its screening ability. "Simon, if you're listening," the voice said, "I gotta talk to Wollie. Wollie, please be there."
It was my friend Joey. Despite a masculine name, like mine, Joey, like me, is female. Knowing her as I do, I assumed that under the circumstances she'd want me to ignore her.
"Okay, you're not there," she said, her gravelly voice cracking. "I hate to say it to the machine, but you'll hear it on the news. David's dead. David Zetrakis. Our David."
"David?" I extricated myself from Simon's grasp and crawled to the machine. "Our David?" I said. Too late. The beep indicated that Joey had hung up.
Simon's hand found my thigh and gave it a squeeze. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I...yes." But I didn't move. After a moment I felt a comforter placed over me.
Simon stood. He was six foot five, as tall as anyone need reasonably be who's not in the NBA, and in great shape, too, which is not unusual in L.A., where gym memberships are as common as car insurance, but still, impressive in a guy approaching fifty. Our relationship, affair, hookup, whatever it was, was new enough that the sight of him naked could still distract me from anything. Even the death of an old boyfriend.
"Someone close to you?" He was checking one of his cell phones for messages.
"Very close. Once upon a time." I picked up my own cell phone to call Joey.
Simon bent down, grabbed a handful of hair, and kissed my shoulder. "Later, beautiful girl," he said. Then he retreated to the bathroom. Still naked.
"Joey," I said to her answering machine. "That's...so sad. Are you okay?"
David had been an old boyfriend of mine, but he'd been Joey's too, longer and more seriously. When she picked up the phone halfway through my message, she didn't bother talking. She cried. Joey Rafferty Horowitz was a fairly tough cookie, so hearing her cry, while not a complete novelty, was alarming. Eventually I asked what had happened to David.
"He had cancer," she said. "Pancreatic. Horrible. Untreatable."
I searched for something to say that wasn't a cliche, but gave up. "God, that's awful. I didn't even know he was sick." I design greeting cards, so you'd expect better from me, but when it comes to death, I'm an amateur like everyone else. "And so young," I added.
"Fifty-one," Joey said, blowing her nose. "It's a measure of how old we're getting that fifty-one seems young."
"Did he die in the hospital?"
"At home," she said. "Toluca Lake."
I wrapped the comforter around myself, cold suddenly, and walked to the window. Simon lived in a penthouse on Wilshire Boulevard, a stark, masculine, tall-ceilinged condo with oversized windows washed by a cleaning lady on the inside and a professional crew on the outside. The view went all the way to the ocean. Toluca Lake was to the northeast, over mountains, so it wasn't like I could see David's house, but maybe his spirit hovered above the Pacific.
"When did you last see David?" I asked, but Joey had put me on hold.
I watched the sun set. It was that week between Christmas and New Year's, a time to calculate end-of-year quarterly taxes and polish off gingerbread men and eggnog while making resolutions about sugar, carbs, and alcohol. The L.A. sky faded until the smog was indistinguishable from the sea. I heard the shower in the bathroom and considered joining Simon; he showered unarmed, so it was one place I could safely ambush him.
A click indicated that Joey was back on the line, but she didn't speak.
"Joey?" I said.