Fast Women

They don’t break for anybody.

Nell’s been discarded. Suze’s been repressed. Margie’s been put on hold. But now they’re hitting the ground running, kicking up dust, and moving at the speed of rage.

Nell Dysart is living a too small life in a too small apartment with no visible evidence of a reason to get up in the morning. Weighed down by an inexplicable divorce and a loss of appetite for everything, Nell is frozen in place, and she’s not alone: Her two closest friends and sisters-in-law are as stuck as she is. Suze is married to a controlling lawyer who keeps her housebound while she perfects an almost zen-like denial, and Margie has been stuck in foggy limbo since her husband disappeared seven years before with a lot of money that didn’t belong to him. Good thing Nell’s new job is with a down-and-out detective agency that has huge potential and a boss who looks easy to manage.

Gabe McKenna isn’t doing too well, either. His detective agency is wasting time on a blackmail case, his partner Riley has decided he hates watching cheating spouses for money, and his ex-wife has just dumped him . . . again. Good thing his new secretary looks efficient, boring, and biddable.

But soon Nell and Gabe are squaring off over embezzlement, business cards, bribery, interior decoration, vandalism, dachshund-napping, blackmail, and unprofessional sex, all of which turn out to be the least of their problems. Because shortly after that, somebody starts killing people. And shortly after that, they start falling in love.

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Honors & Awards: A New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today Bestseller, One of RWA’s Top Ten Romances of 2001, One of’s Top Ten Romances of 2001, One of Border’s Top Ten Romances of 2001, A Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club Alternate Selection, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Best Contemporary Novel

Book Notes

On the setting: Yes, German Village is a real place and it’s beautiful. The names of things have been changed to protect me from lawsuits, but you can go have Reubens in the restaurant I named the Sycamore and find the building the detective agency is in.

On writing: I love mystery fiction, almost as much as I love romance fiction. If it’s good mystery fiction combined with good romance, I’m in heaven. One of my favorites is Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, including the movie adaptation with William Powell and Myrna Loy. Nick and Nora may be the perfect couple (okay, so he’s too old for her and has a drinking problem and there was no need for him to clip her on the chin to save her from the gunman BUT it’s a great romance), and the mystery is nice and twisty, and the rest of the cast of characters are delightfully bent. Fast Women isn’t my version of The Thin Man–why mess with something when the original is so good?–but it was definitely inspired by it.

China Note: Too often overlooked is the role that china plays in literature. Okay, there’s probably a reason for that, but dishes are much more than flat things you put the meatloaf on. I had a wonderful time with the Franciscan Desert Rose (that’s Margie’s pitcher there to the left), the Carlton Walking Ware, Spode (yes, those are real patterns described in the book) and above all the British Art Deco pottery of Susie Cooper and Clarice Cliff.

That’s Clarice on the right. The plate to her upper right is her Stroud pattern. The pattern below that is her Secrets pattern. Like Nell, I like Stroud the best because of the tidy little world in that cartouche, and Secrets second because the landscape is so wildly romantic. I much prefer to dreak my tea and coffee from Susie Cooper teapots and cups because Clarice was not a practical designer, but practicality is not everything. After all, nobody ever said falling in love was a sensible thing to do.

And you thought I’d made all this stuff up.