Avery Shaw is obnoxious and self-absorbed, and she often lacks that inner-filter most people have. She's prone to speak before she thinks, and that often leads to her being unintentionally rude. Well, usually it's unintentional.
She's also hysterical. Amanda M. Lee's novel "If it Bleeds, it Leads" had me laughing more than any other book I can remember recently.
This go round, Avery shows up at her newspaper office one day to find her coworker, Darby, has been murdered outside. Avery's editor assigns her to write the main story, as well as a sidebar--the little auxiliary story where friends and relatives recount what a wonderful person the deceased was.
In her research, Avery stumbles upon something that just doesn't feel right. Darby's ex-boyfriend is a known drug dealer named Kevin Walker, Jr. Kevin, Sr, owns the area's largest auto dealership, and it seems the apple fell far from the tree.
Avery may be abrasive and immature, but she has a reporter's instincts. She digs deeper into the story, searching for answers to Darby's murder, but that story is quickly overshadowed by the true scope of Kevin's drug operations. He isn't some stoner dealing weed to neighborhood teens. The police conduct a raid on a warehouse and discover Kevin's real home base: a giant meth factory.
Add into this mix Avery's screwball cousin, Lexie--who thinks she's black, and always ends up with boyfriends who deal--plus a coworker's Oxycontin-addled girlfriend, a stripper named Sunshine, and the two guys filled with both longing and exasperation over Avery, and you have the perfect blend for a fun, smart book.
The key to this series' success is Avery Shaw herself. She is far from stupid: she's a good reporter with sharp instincts. She's also far from being a normal adult. She's obsessed with Star Wars--she has a Darth Vader pancake mold and matching cookie jar, for crying out loud--and thinks nothing of working in Star Wars t-shirts and Adidas Darth Vader high-tops. As a narratrix, she shows charm and an acerbic wit. We all live and work among people who drive us nuts. In her family--as well as her newspaper--Avery has her share. Her descriptions and anecdotes show both impatience with stupidity and a certain twisted affection for the eccentrics in her world. Her bark is worse than her bite--well, except at the end, where she really bites someone.
This series has so much promise. Author Amanda M. Lee deserves credit for her creation, as well as encouragement to write faster.