When the Veronica Mars television series was canceled in 2007, fans held on to the hope that show creator Rob Thomas would be able to continue the teen detective’s story as an FBI rookie. Sadly, that series never happened, but it may have been to Veronica’s benefit: Last year’s Veronica Mars movie, crowdfunded by fans who fronted over $5 million dollars via Kickstarter, not only gave Thomas the opportunity to reward years of fan devotion to a show axed too soon, but also to rejig his original plan for Veronica’s post-high school life and story.
Reaction to the film itself may be mixed, but it does provide a great set-up to the series of Veronica Mars novels co-penned by Thomas and Jennifer Graham. Mr. Kiss and Tell follows up last year’s Veronica Mars book debut, The Ten-Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Tie-in novels can be dicey in their execution, but Tan Line was a surprisingly solid read, picking up with Veronica’s life in Neptune immediately following the events of the film. While the book’s central mystery fizzled next to Veronica’s personal drama, it read like an episode of the show – gritty and noir, peppered with whip-smart dialogue and dead-on characterization of everyone’s Neptune favorites.
Mr. Kiss and Tell is even better. Perhaps it isn’t fair to say how refreshing it is to read a well-written tie-in novel – others do exist – but nearly every aspect is tight and true. Plot-wise, Tell balances its many threads perfectly – the corruption in Neptune, its main mystery and how it touches those close to Veronica, and Veronica’s complicated feelings for Logan’s life as a Navy pilot. And, like so many moments in the show, it can be uncomfortable when confronting race, class, and sexual assault head-on. The story is all sharp edges but its individual parts fit together seamlessly; more importantly, Veronica herself remains a knotty, multifaceted character who recognizes she is often her own worst enemy, and the story never absolves her of fault when it comes to her constant struggle between work and maintaining her closest relationships.
In many ways, The Ten-Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell are more satisfying than the Veronica Mars film, and feel like the true return of one of pop culture’s most beloved detectives. Here’s hoping we’ll be reading more of Veronica’s adventures for years to come.
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