- Title: What the Lady Wants
- Author: Jennifer Crusie
- Genre: romance, mystery
- Format: paperback
- Source: own
- Reviewed by: Olga
- Rating: 4 out of 5
Description: Mitch Peatwick is a private detective who’s about to go out of business if he doesn’t land a new client. He’s ready to quit, when Mae Sullivan strolls into his office. The gorgeous, smart-mouthed woman has a family straight out of Goodfellas — and a case he can’t afford to turn down. Mae wants Mitch to find her uncle’s killer, his diary and the missing family fortune. He accepts the case, but soon finds himself involved with Mae in more ways than just the investigation.
Review: One of the earlier stories by one of my favorite writers, this short novel, a blend of mystery and romance, is sweet and funny, although its romantic twist is rather abrupt.
Mitch is a shabby, less than intelligent PI in a seedy office in a dilapidated building. Or so it seems at first glance, when Mae first approaches him with her made-up case of her uncle’s murder. All she wants him to do is to stir up some noise.
Mae comes out of Mitch’s dreams of being a Sam Spade, with his own femme fatale. Or so it seems at first glance, when she walks into his office wearing a borrowed pink skirt and lying through her teeth.
As the two wade among the multiple lies, searching for the truth, they learn that despite their initial deceptions, they can rely on each other. Trust builds, and lust explodes, and the layers of inventions and evasions fall away. Even Mae’s criminal family can’t deter Mitch from his growing attraction to Mae. He would just wing it to get the lady he wants. Or more to the point, to get her what she wants.
The story is fast, even though it could use more details; the protagonists are extremely likable, and the dialog is fantastic, a typical Crusie. No inner conflicts complicate the heroes of this straightforward tale of mayhem, mafia, and murder, but the reader can’t stop smiling at the absurdity of the situations the author piles up.
And I love the cover art. It’s tasteful and humorous and subtly romantic, much better than some of the modern romance covers, blandishing naked girls and muscled hunks.