Kensington, Jun 2002, 22.00, 203 pp.
Her almost namesake (mom could not spell) is probably turning over in her grave with the type of writings that freelance ad author Jaine Austen flushes from the deepest bowls of her mind. Industrial strength toilets not romances are Jaine's typical ballads. So when nerd Howard Murdoch hires her to write a love letter to aerobics instructor Stacy Lawrence, Jaine feels this is her chance at scribing an Emma. Jaine succeeds and reticent Howard goes on a date with Stacy.
On Valentine's Day, someone murders Stacy using her thigh master as a sledgehammer. The police arrest Howard. Jaine feels that her client is innocent and that in a way she caused his current predicament. There is also conceited LAPD detective Timothy Rea needing some comeuppance plus she needs an excuse to stay in touch with the victim's gorgeous neighbor Cameron Bannick.
THIS PEN FOR HIRE is amusing and cleverly designed amateur sleuth tale, but the romance comes across as interceding with the wonderful who-done-it. Jaine's humorous dialogue about her personal pitfalls turn her into quite a character study and makes for a superb novel. Laura Levine has written an amusing tale, so original that readers will want more works starring the other J. Austen.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner