Summary- This book is the first in the Jaine Austen mystery series.
Jaine is hired by a Howard to write a letter asking out a girl he likes. When that girl is murdered Howard becomes the primary suspect. Jaine feels bad for him and ends up doing an investigation to help find the real killer since the police aren’t interested in investigating further since they already have a killer in custody.
My Rating: 3/5
This Pen For Hire was really hard for me to rate. In some ways I felt it deserved a lower rating at least compared to the rest of the novels in the series but at the same time 2 stars would have not been fair either. It is almost like 2 and 3/4 stars.
I love this series. I read the last book in the series first and became totally addicted. I have since read more than half the series and honestly this is probably the worst of the bunch though in fairness it is the first. As just a cozy mystery it isn’t bad but compared to the other books in the series it is.
If I had read this book first I probably wouldn’t have bothered to read anymore which would have been a real shame since the series is really amazing.
My favorite aspect of the series is the humor and this books humor was underdeveloped. I didn’t think it was particularly memorable. It felt like Levine hadn’t really found Jaine’s voice yet and many of the funny aspects of Jaine didn’t emerge in this book.
Jaine’s neighbor Lance was a real jerk in this book which is a shame because later he is her friend and after reading this it is hard to like him. In other books he genuinely cares for Jaine though at times he is conceited and self absorbed. This book ruined him for me and I don’t think I will be able to really like him in any future book I read in the series even though he semi redeems himself at the end of this book.
The mystery itself was okay if a bit predictable. The mysteries in this series are usually hit or miss with more misses than hits. This is one of the few I have found that fell into a gray area for me. It felt like an episode of any crime show on television and was nothing special but it also was not as off the wall and unrealistic as some of the endings later in the series. It was still fairly unrealistic and coincidental.
The book’s main redeeming quality is that it gives quite a bit more backstory that isn’t given in later books (at least the ones I have read).
The series is great and highly recommended but this book is skippable.