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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Death by Pantyhose ($6.99), by Laura Levine

I didn’t read the author’s biographical information until after I had finished the book. After I read that Laura Levine had been a comedy writer on some of the most popular sitcoms of the 70s, the book made a whole lot more sense. Death by Pantyhose, the sixth entry in the Jaine Austen series, really should be called One Joke After Another.

Jaine is a freelance writer whose greatest accomplishment is as the copywriter for a toilet bowl ad. She blithely solves mysteries in between writing gigs. In this instance, Jaine is negotiating to write gags for Dorcas, an insipid comedienne, when a fellow comic is murdered and Dorcas is accused of the crime.

Jaine is a shadow of Janet Evanovich’s hilarious Stephanie Plum, the sassy New Jersey bailbondswoman. There are the same elements in each series: a dysfunctional yet funny family, a hot boyfriend, goofy cars, a pet with an attitude, a hearty appetite, and a tendency to be the horror movie heroine who opens the door when the entire audience knows she shouldn’t. I laugh out loud while reading Evanovich -- even when her plot goes thunk instead of whee. I titter when reading Levine. And that’s the difference in a nutshell.

Nevertheless, Levine’s story is entertaining, a fast read, and can easily be turned into something visually funny. I wonder if there’s a sitcom in sight?

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