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Dating Dead Men

Dating Dead Men

Book 1 of the Wollie Shelley series

"It's the rare writer who has either a sense of humor or a sense of suspense. Kozak...has both—as she displays broadly in her debut novel."
   —Entertainment Weekly

The critically acclaimed and multiple award winning debut novel from Harley Jane Kozak, is a fast-paced, flawless blend of romance, comedy, and suspense. Dating Dead Men introduces a writer who is bound to take her place alongside Janet Evanovich and Gillian Roberts—and a heroine as feisty, funny, and unforgettable as Bridget Jones.

Wollie is dating 40 men in 60 days as part of a research project for a bestselling radio personality; the $5,000 fee could help her struggling store, "Wollie's Welcome! Greetings." In particular, Wollie's worried about inspections from national headquarters, who want to ensure that her franchise is up to standard. Her already full plate gets loaded up further when her paranoid schizophrenic brother, P.B., who resides at a mental hospital called Rio Pescado, phones to tell her he's witnessed a murder. The last thing Wollie wants is to call the police, so she dashes off to Rio Pescado. On the way she finds a dead body. At the hospital she picks up a charismatic stranger, "Doc," who's on the run, and Wollie can't help getting herself mixed up in his troubles as well... (PW)

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"Even Stephanie Plum's antics will seem sedate after readers make the acquaintance of Los Angeles's own Wollie Shelley, greeting card designer and small business owner. Juggling dates, avoiding the bad guys on Doc's trail, trying to keep her store up to snuff and figuring out what to feed the ferret Doc left in her care have Wollie hopping at a pace reminiscent of the best 1930s screwball film comedies. Kozak has struck gold first time out with a wacky, high-octane plot and characters to match."
—Publishers Weekly (*STARRED REVIEW*)

"All greeting card artist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wants to do is get the status of her franchise card shop upgraded, go out on dates, and take care of her institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic brother, P.B. But life for Wollie isn't as simple as it appears. Corporate spies could appear at any moment. Her social life is dictated by a research project for a radio celebrity psychotherapist who's paying Wollie to date 40 men in 60 days. And her brother has called to tell her that there's been a murder at his mental hospital. To top it all off, Wollie has finally met the man of her dreams, but he's on the run from gangsters and the law, and may or may not be involved in a killing. There's never a dull moment in this rollicking caper, an exuberant, fun-filled roller-coaster ride worthy of Stephanie Plum. Kozak, a talented actress who's appeared in such films as Parenthood and When Harry Met Sally, will inevitably be compared favorably to Janet Evanovich—Kozak's humor, voice, and pacing is quite similar. This incredible debut novel is the first in a series of dating mysteries, and libraries of all sizes will want it for their collections."
—Library Journal (*STARRED REVIEW*)

"Enterprising Wollstonecraft Shelley has to date 40 men in 60 days and somehow stay alive in this thoroughly engaging screwball debut mystery. The Dating Experiment is meant to be serious research in the interest of social science. How? Why? Don't ask. Suffice it to say that Wollie's date-rich research gets sidetracked when, en route to a mental hospital to visit her schizophrenic brother, she almost rams her VW into an inert object—a dead body with a bullet in its head. Wollie, the manager of a modest greeting-card business, is about to become the hostage of a darkly handsome man with a gun who turns out to be her type. She's not only embarrassed but amazed because "it had been so long since I'd been attracted to anyone. I was no longer sure I had a type." Additional corpses, furious car chases, an adorable pet ferret named Margaret owned by a sad-eyed little girl named Ruby, a MacGuffin stashed in a synagogue, assorted homicidal Mafiosi (two of them surprisingly Nordic), and love's labor lost and found often impede—but never quite foil—some fancy detective work by Wollie. Rejoice. Newcomer Wollie is funny, brave, smart, and altogether the fetchingest crime fiction heroine since the early Stephanie Plum."
—Kirkus Reviews (*STARRED REVIEW*)

"Poor Wollie Shelley. She's desperately trying to make sure her card store, Wollie's Welcome, will stay in business. It figures her schizophrenic brother, P.B., would call while the store inspector was visiting and claim he's witnessed a murder. Wollie drives to the hospital where P.B. is, and sure enough, she stumbles across a dead body. She also runs into a man disguised as a doctor, who uses her to help him escape from the hospital. Only after they've eluded hospital security does "Doc" mentions he's being pursued by the Mafia, although he won't say why. Wollie wants to help him, but his problems are starting to take over her life. She still has the store, and she's also participating in a dating program run by a radio personality, but it's hard for Wollie to focus on the men she's going out with when the Mafia is dogging her every move. Worse yet, she might actually be falling for Doc. Kozak's debut is a lively, funny romp for fans of lighthearted mysteries."

"[Kozak's] literary debut is warm, engaging and deeply funny—and offers more insight and depth than is found in just about any other chick lit offering out there today."
—The Washington Post

"Kozak...demonstrates a flair for crisp dialogue and sly humor in a novel that's part chick lit, part mystery...Kozak matches [her] endearing protagonist with effectively drawn minor players, including two sassy girlfriends and a ferret named Margaret. The clever plot incorporates twists and suspenseful moments...Wollie's madcap exploits are a hoot."
—USA Today

"...Kozak has done a bang-up job...In the fine tradition of Janet Evanovich and Stephanie Plum, Kozak and her creation pack a welcome laugh into a first-rate mystery plot. Brava!"
—The Chicago Sun-Times

"Readers will not want this warm and witty story, with its perfect mix of zen and zaniness, to end. Luckily, Wollie's advntures will continue in Kozak's next book."
—Romantic Times Magazine

"Dating Dead Men, the debut mystery from...Harley Jane Kozak is fast-paced, quirkily romantic, and most importantly, laugh-out-loud funny."
—Elle Magazine

"We like to avoid such words as 'wacky' and 'screwball,' but this is the sort of book they were made for. It's also a funny and surprisingly entertaining debut."
—The Arizona Republic Online

"Lot's of action, quirky characters, an engaging new sleuth who designs greeting cards, and a ferret named Margaret—what more could any reader want? Dating Dead Men is a superb debut."
—Valerie Wolzien, author, A Fashionable Murder

"Dating Dead Men, Harley Jane Kozak's hilarious debut novel, proves that the search for love can be as funny as it is deadly, as it ricochets from one madcap misadventure after another with the speed of a bullet and the uproarious fun of a three-ring circus. An absolutely delightful tale, told with warmth and charm."
—Kris Neri, author of Agatha, Anthony & Macavity Award-nominated Tracy Eaton mysteries

"Dating Dead Men is the funniest mystery I've read in ages. Any woman who has ever wondered how many more Mr. Wrongs she'll have to date to meet Mr. Right will love this book."
—Jan Burke, author, Nine

"Dating Dead Men is a page-turning romp alive with fresh, quirky characters and inventive situations that left me anxious for another date with Wollie Shelley, provided author Harley Jane Kozak is amenable next time around to a man who's still breathing."
—Robert S. Levinson, author, Hot Paint and The John Lennon Affair

"Harley Jane Kozak fashions a doozy of a debut, starring cars, cads, clothes, and an L.A. gone hilariously mad."
—Mary Daheim, author, The Alpine Pursuit

Doubleday, hardcover, January 2004, ISBN: 978-0385510189
Broadway, paperback, March 2005, ISBN: 978-0767921237