Avery Shaw's life is anything but boring. How can it be when the mother of a naked, armed man, dancing to Eminem, dumps coffee on her cute martini-emblazoned flip-flops?
It only gets better in Amanda M Lee's "Who, What, Where, When, Die," the first installment in what I hope is a long series of Avery Shaw novels.
Avery is a reporter for the Macomb "Monitor." Macomb is a suburb of Detroit, and it has seen better days. The government is always broke, and rife with corruption, and many of the residents are dispirited. The naked guy with the gun? He lost his Macomb County job, and thus got drunk and went a little nuts. His estranged wife lost her job, and she's very near eviction. The naked guy's brother-in-law also lost his job, and he is fighting a huge battle with the county commission, decrying the obvious corruption and fraud taking place.
Avery gets to cover each of these stories, plus her choicest of choice assignments: covering the "Star Wars Symphony" concert. Avery Shaw is possibly the biggest Star Wars geek on earth. In fact, her work wardrobe is composed primarily of Star Wars and The Goonies t-shirts. Oh, and Jaws t-shirts, for formal occasions.
As much as she seems to waltz benignly through her job, Avery truly is a good reporter. Moreover, one of her stories has made somebody very angry. It starts with harassing notes, then escalates to more physical threats, even violence.
Against this backdrop, Avery finds herself attracted to her ex from high school--the tall, handsome, Jake--not to mention a new guy, Eliot, a local pawnbroker.
When things get too confusing, Avery does the only sensible thing: she goes home, nukes some Stouffer's Macaroni & Beef, and plays video games for hours.
Amanda M Lee has created an awesome character in Avery. I love her wardrobe, as well as her home decorating scheme--each room has its own theme, an all-Disney kitchen, for example. She's smart, acerbically funny, and sarcastic to boot. She makes an excellent narrator, as well as a compelling heroine.
"Who, What, Where, When, Die" isn't perfect--the ending feels a bit abrupt--but it shines as an auspicious debut to a funny, well-written mystery series.