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This Pen for Hire (A Jaine Austen Mystery #1)

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,476 Ratings  ·  303 Reviews
Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge--and uncovering more than she bargained for. . .

No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough: a letter p

Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Kensington Books (first published June 1st 2002)
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Best Cozy Mystery Series
47th out of 1,285 books — 1,409 voters
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Series To Finish (or Start)
14th out of 23 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jacob Proffitt
I was sad to find myself unable to enjoy this. As protagonists go, I was kind of looking forward to a gun for hire writer type who stumbled into mystery situations. Sadly, I just wasn't engaged by this story.

Most of that is on Jane (the protagonist). She's kind of prickly, more obsequious than nice, and kind of an idiot. She came off as a caricature of her premise and that just didn't do it for me.

It didn't help that Levine took the stereotype as an easy out every chance she got (well, in the fi
Jan 03, 2011 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading on the train is not usually a problem, except when you are chuckling out loud and people are wondering what's wrong with you. Laura Levine's book is a most amusing mystery filled with lots of funny one-liners. The mystery is good and the book just lets you delve into Jaine's world. It is worth the read.
Jul 27, 2012 Jennie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I weren't sitting here writing a review of this book, I probably wouldn't even remember I read it this time next year. This piece of fluff is a book I found in the kitchen at my office and when I read Laura Levine's biography notes, I was immediately curious. Ms. Levine's t.v. credits including writing for The Bob Newhart Show, Three's Company and Laverne and Shirley, to name a few. Wondering how a sitcom writer would fare as a mystery novelist, I read this book over the course of four lunch ...more
Marguerite Kaye
I really enjoyed this. It was fun, fast and witty. I had never heard of Jaine Austen, the PI/writer in it, until I saw a review of a later book on SuperWendy's blog, and I'm really pleased to have discovered a whole new series. I read this in two gulps. It doesn't matter that I guessed whodunit, that wasn't the point. Fave line - 'He claimed he was writing the great America novel, it turned out to be the great American paragraph.' So pleased to have found Jaine, and I know it won't be long befor ...more
Jaine Austen (no relation) is a freelance writer who spends most of her time writing promotional mailers and leaflets for various companies. When geeky Howard Murdoch approaches her to write a love letter, and then admits he's never even spoken to the object of his affections, Jaine relucantantly agrees to help. To Jaine's surprise her letter works and wins Howard a date with the gorgeous aerobics instructor Stacy Lawrence. But the next thing she knows Stacy is found bludgeoned to death with a T ...more
Denise Rodgers
Jan 27, 2014 Denise Rodgers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am currently reading this book for the second time---the advantage of having all my books on my Nook! The voice of the main character is engaging and self-deprecating, but not to the point of being annoying. This is the book where we meet Jaine Austin, freelance writer-for-hire. She becomes involved in a murder mystery when one of her particularly pathetic clients is accused of murder. He hired Jaine to write a letter to get him a date---and said date is found bludgeoned to death with her thig ...more
Patty Allen
Jun 03, 2015 Patty Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Pen For Hire, was laugh out loud funny.I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series.
Cute, fluffy and funny. Somewhat on par with Stephanie Plum, but so far without the romance or even fictional eye-candy to ogle. Hopefully within the next couple of books or I'll probably push these all to the backburner.
Aug 09, 2012 Tina rated it liked it

First time reader of this author. I enjoyed it. Prozac reminds me so much of my cat. I'm going to read the other books!
Connie N.
#1 in the Jaine Austen Mystery series

This was totally fun! I've been putting it off, but I shouldn't have because it was much different from what I had expected, lighter and more entertaining. Jaine is a professional writer, creating brochures, resumes, letters, etc. for small business and individuals (that actually sounds like fun). But she gets involved in a murder investigation because one of her clients is accused of killing a woman he had wanted to date. When the police seem to be zeroing i
Sep 22, 2013 Luffy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the very start to the last sentence, This Pen For Hire kept me on my toes. It was flawless overall. I cannot praise this book highly enough. I'm usually very careful with my rating system and all the books that get a perfect score need to go that extra mile to get 5 stars. The pacing was wonderful in This Pen For Hire. There was no surplus padding, only lean muscle through and through. I could understand most of the jokes. The latter dried up after halfway through but by then things were g ...more
I love a mystery and if there is humour in it even better. With the author Laura Levine's past history of writing sitcoms I had high hopes that this would be a funny book and I was right. This Pen for Hire is a fun, easy read. It is short and doesn't dwell on too many details. I like mysteries that are short mainly because I don't have to read as long to find out who the killer is. Jaine is a fun and relatable character, like everyone else out there terribly insecure about her looks and I couldn ...more
Oct 28, 2010 Jenni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a cute and cozy mystery.

One thing that drew me into this book wasn't the plot (although the plot was pretty good) was the fact that the character, Jaine Austen is life-like.

This isn't a mystery where the main character is oh-so-awesome at everything and knows everything. She admits it that she has a good number of suspects for the murder, that she happens to be some-what connected to.

Some of the jokes are cheesy and over-used, but again, that's lifelike. If your name is Jaine Aust
I really enjoyed this book! it was hilarious and nicely written. The mystery was mediocre, but still interesting. Hated the outcome but I still want to continue on with the series!
Cathy Daniel
Mar 07, 2015 Cathy Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in one evening. Simply HILARIOUS! I laughed until I cried! I can't wait to inhale...I mean read more of this series :)
A fun and witty novel that is asentertainingas it is quick to read.Set in trendy, plastic LA Levine dances the line betweenoutrageousand down to earth magnificently. Readers will instantly fall in love with Jaine's best friend and her cat, Prozac. Perfect for an afternoon pleasure lounging on the beach or just snuggled on the couch on a rainy day. Either way, This Pen for Hireblends mystery and chick-lit with ease for our enjoyment.

Austen fans, beware. The only thing linking the two is themisspe
Jane Night
This book was really hard for me to rate. In some ways I felt it deserved a lower rating at least compared to the rest of the novels in the series but at the same time 2 stars would have not been fair either. It is almost like 2 and 3/4 stars.

I love this series. I read the last book in the series first and became totally addicted. I have since read more than half the series and honestly this is probably the worst of the bunch though in fairness it is the first. As just a cozy mystery it isn’t ba
Apr 06, 2014 Sheila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May 27, 2015 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jaine Austen is a freelance writer who will literally write anything for a buck. When timid Howard Murdoch pays her to write a love letter for him, Jaine agrees (even though she knows the woman is WAY out of his league). Then, soon after the letter is delivered, Howard is caught red-handed standing above the beautiful woman's dead body. But Jaine cannot believe Howard is the murderer, so she turns amateur sleuth to prove his innocence.

2.5 stars: It was better than ok. Although the humor relies a
Dec 06, 2014 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author of this book is a comedy writer for TV and movies, and it shows in her book. At first, I thought I wouldn't like it, but it was actually quite refreshing in a cozy mystery. The main character, Jaine Austen, was likable... A bit silly that she's called Jaine Austen, but it really wasn't annoying, though I thought it might be. She comes across as a relatively down-to-earth woman, living in LA, but not quite "cutting it" since she's more of a real girl, surrounded by Hollywood beauties. ...more
I'm not completely against this book - I just thought it average. This is progress (or maybe its reverse), since a year ago I would have thrown a book at the wall whose heroine was as silly as this one. I guess as I grow older my patience for silliness increases. I felt kind of sad for Jaine though. First, she's stuck with a terrible name. Second, she acts like she's 18 when she's really 36. Third, she's so transparently desperate for a man in her life while maintaining that she's immune that it ...more
Laura Ruetz
Oct 03, 2015 Laura Ruetz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love finding a new author. In this case, I found these books at a book event and found myself drawn to the cover. It had a cat on it. Yes, I'm that easy....I love mysteries and I love cats - if you can combine the two, I'm all in.

I loved the wit and the humor in this book. Best of all, I can really connect to the main character. I too am clumsy and awkward and love food but I'm charming and...well, this isn't supposed to be about me so nevermind. What I am getting at is that this is a compelli
Dec 30, 2013 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As it appears on my blog:
Hey Folks!
I know you have been waiting on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what I would comment on next. Wonder no more! I have just read "This Pen For Hire," by Laura Levine. It is the first in a series featuring wordsmith Jaine Austen, a thirty something gal who writes letters, brochures, and even an occasional newspaper ad for a living. (Her mother loved classic literature, but, ironically, couldn't spell.) It is because of her profession that our heroine
Toni ~married to a hunk~
Feb 12, 2012 Toni ~married to a hunk~ rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-read, kindle
I borrowed this from Sheryl and loved it. It was clever and cute.
Cozy set in LA
#1 in the Jaine Austen series

Free lance writer Jaine Austen makes a living penning resumes, personal ads, brochures and love letters for other people. Imagine her surprise when her latest client, geeky and bashful Howard Murdoch becomes the police’s only suspect when his love interest is found bludgeoned to death with a Thighmaster.

I really enjoyed this light, fluffy but completely hilarious cozy. The situations Jaine found herself in made me laugh out loud on several occasions w
Apr 24, 2013 Drebbles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Like her namesake, Jaine Austen is a writer, but a freelance writer, meaning she'll take just about any job that will help pay the bills. So when geeky nerd Howard Murdoch shows up at her door asking her to write a love letter for him she agrees although she doubts gorgeous aerobics instructor Stacy Lawrence will agree to go out with him. Much to Jaine's surprise, Stacy agrees to go out with Howard on Valentine's Day! Alas, Howard's triumph is short lived when he shows up for the date and finds ...more
Diane  Morasco
Laura Levine knocked it right out of the box w/ her quick witted, smartly paced debut. This Pen for Hire is brimming with humor.

Meet Jaine Austen ~ her mom's not too big on spelling . Jaine is one of the most down-to-earth & utterly charming amateur detectives to come along in a long time.

Laura Levine created not only an appealing, crafty, brassy, character ~ she hit the nail & penned a fun, fast~paced mystery that is laugh~out~loud funny!!!

Laura has an invigorating knack for writing in
Susan B
Sep 03, 2011 Susan B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Jaine Austen, writer-for-hire, finds herself in a pickle when a client is charged with murder after Jaine's personal letter wins him a date with the object of his affection. Jaine doesn't believe the crime possible of the meek-mannered geek she's met and sets out to prove the authorities wrong.

Turns out there's no shortage of people who might want Stacy Lawrence dead - men she's used and jealous female rivals among them. Jaine has to narrow down the suspects before she winds up the killer's next
I have to be totally honest first of all and say I picked this book up pretty much based on the cover. I'm sorry... I know we're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover but come on who wants to read an ugly book and this one was just so doggone cute!

And wow I really ended up liking it! I flew thru it in just a coupla hours it was so entertaining! It kinda has a Stephanie Plum flair to it but then not so much. Stephanie is funny but more toughish whereas Jaine is funny and brainyish?

Jaine kep
Read for Fun!
Overall Rating: 3.75
Story Rating: 3.50
Character Rating: 4.00

First Thought When Finished: What a fun read!

What I Loved: Note to self: don't write love letters for others unless you want to be in the middle of a very fun mystery. Jaine Austen was such a cute character. She was sassy, fun, and kind of a mess. Her dating life sucks. Her career is a little unusual. Her neighbor is nosy. Her best friend was a total riot. All in all she was just fun to watch stumble through things. She was
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Grew up in Brooklyn, New York, back when mastodons (and Edsels) still roamed the earth.

Education: Barnard College

First job: Reporter/photographer at a newspaper so small, we had our photos developed in the local camera shop.

Advertising claim to fame: I created Count Chocula and Frankenberry cereals for General Mills.

TV gets invented, and I get a job as a sitcom writer, turning out scripts for show
More about Laura Levine...

Other Books in the Series

A Jaine Austen Mystery (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Last Writes (A Jaine Austen Mystery, #2)
  • Killer Blonde (A Jaine Austen Mystery, #3)
  • Shoes To Die For (A Jaine Austen Mystery, #4)
  • The PMS Murder (A Jaine Austen Mystery #5)
  • Death by Pantyhose (A Jaine Austen Mystery, #6)
  • Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swensen, #9.5)
  • Killing Bridezilla (A Jaine Austen Mystery, #7)
  • Killer Cruise (A Jaine Austen Mystery, #8)
  • Death of a Trophy Wife (A Jaine Austen Mystery, #9)
  • Gingerbread Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen, #13.5)

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“A famous philosopher (either Aristotle or Judith Krantz, I forget who) once said about being a woman in Los Angeles: If you're blonde and beautiful, you're interchangeable. If you're not, you're invisible.” 3 likes
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