Review

Dating Dead Men

by Harley Jane Kozak



Meet Wollie (short for Wollstonecraft) Shelley. She's the manager
of a struggling greeting card store in a seedy part of Los Angeles.
Wollie dreams of someday having enough time and money to design her
own greeting cards full-time. Right now, though, Wollie has no time
to spare. She is desperately trying to keep her store afloat,
helping to care for her schizophrenic brother, and has agreed to
participate in a dating experiment --- dating forty men in sixty
days --- to help a radio shrink do research for a book on
dating.

When Wollie drives to her brother's mental hospital late one night,
she almost literally runs into a dead body. Then she's held hostage
by a mysterious (but incredibly attractive) man she knows only as
Doc. Who is this guy, and how is he involved with the murder? Why
are two Swedish hit men on Wollie's tail? What is a ferret's
favorite food? And will Wollie find the man of her dreams on the
dating circuit or in a more unexpected place? These are just some
of the burning questions answered in the course of DATING DEAD
MEN's wacky, fast-paced plot.

Fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series will find much to
enjoy in this mystery, the first in a series. Spunky Wollie keeps
up a hilarious commentary on everything from the mystery itself to
the absurd fashions she is required to wear on her dates. Wollie's
sidekicks, including her uncle and her co-workers at the store,
also add comic flavor to the tale. Unfortunately, many of these
supporting characters drop out of sight midway through the book, as
the plot grows increasingly complex.

As the mystery plot grows more central to the story, the weaknesses
of this first novel show through. The two stories --- about the
mystery and about the serial dating --- are not sufficiently
integrated, and the relationships among the various mobsters can be
as difficult to unravel as a plate of spaghetti.

There are some really poignant moments here, though, particularly
regarding Wollie's brother and Doc's mute daughter. These
thought-provoking characters help add depth to the novel, and
readers will look forward to learning more about these characters
in future installments. DATING DEAD MEN is a light-hearted romp
through Los Angeles's singles scene and its crime scenes, and fans
will be cheering for Wollie to find love and nab the bad guy in one
fell swoop.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 24, 2011

Dating Dead Men
by Harley Jane Kozak

  • Publication Date: March 15, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway
  • ISBN-10: 0767921232
  • ISBN-13: 9780767921237