Fast Women
Jennifer Crusie
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Buy *Fast Women* online

Fast Women
Jennifer Crusie
St. Martin's Mass Market
432 pages
April 2002
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Fast Women is the story of three women - Eleanor Dysart (Nell), Susannah Campbell Dysart (Suze), and Margie Ogilvie Dysart. Itís mostly about Nell, but the other two put in frequent appearances and their lives are intimately intertwined. These women are married to three cheating scoundrels who also happen to be brothers, and thus theyíve formed a deep and abiding friendship that has stood the test of time. The book begins when Nell takes up a job at the McKenna Detective Agency almost a year after her traumatic divorce. Numb since the divorce, Nell determines, in her usual take-charge kind of way, to improve the agency. But Gabe McKenna is anything but easy to manage and doesnít hesitate to countermand her. Things take an abrupt passionate turn when handsome Riley McKenna, Gabeís cousin and partner in the agency, decides to give Nell an excellent incentive to come back to life. Nell is also stirring up some dust of her own as she decides to makeover the agency and, in the process, brings to light some skeletons in the closet.

Gabeís determined to keep his new secretary at arm's length, as the bosses in their detective agency have a tendency to first sleep with and later marry their secretaries -- a tradition started by his father and which he himself has already followed once by marrying and then divorcing his first secretary/wife, Chloe. Nellís disquieting discovery launches them on the bizarre trail of an old case which is exacerbated by blackmail, embezzlement, divorce, cheating, vandalism, arson, dog-napping, and sex. Consuming copious amounts of vinegar-topped French fries, Nell, together with Suze and Margie, embarks on a wild roller-coaster journey of discovery that leaves all their lives turned topsy-turvy.

Jennifer Crusie is a master at taking complicated man-woman relationships, spicing them with just the right amount of comedy and suspense, and presenting them with wit and candor -- to the profound delight of her readers. Fast Women does all this and more. Usually in Crusie's books there is one major story encompassing another. This book has three, for each of the three women. Par for the course for Crusie it is set in Ohio, and the heroine adopts a neurotic dog. Time and again, Crusie has done it in her books, and one would expect to be bored by these stereotypes, but Crusie has that magical touch, this enchanting ability to make it seem fresh and new book after book after book. So it is with Fast Women. The plot pulsates with energy, and by setting it in a detective agency, Crusie makes full use of the myriad cases the characters become involved in. Crusie has made each character unique and their dialogues sharp and crisp, equal amounts honey and vinegar. There is plenty going on all the time, at times so much that it leaves the reader feeling dazed but happily spellbound. There are mysteries within mysteries, suspicious incident after incident, and bodies turning up every which where, keeping the reader guessing until the very end at what really happened.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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