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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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

Gabe turned his head to look up at her. The moon came through the skylight and backlit Chloe’s short blonde curls, making her look angelically lovely. Too bad she was insane.

Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie

Book Notes from Jenny

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 drink 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.

Praise and Reviews

“A dispirited divorcee goes to work for a detective agency with all the resulting comedy and romance you’d expect from Crusie… Crusie seems incapable of writing a boring page or one that’s not aglow with the sparks of wit and romance. Move over, Susan Isaacs, Crusie is just as smart and sassy about the things a woman has to do to make love work, and a lot funnier to boot.” ~Starred Kirkus Review

“[Fast Women is] sheer reading enjoyment… Crusie is hopelessly romantic and hilariously funny. Highly recommended…” ~Library Journal

“A detective agency may be a sure setting for mystery and adventure, but in Crusie’s latest, a likable cast of characters also finds sex, love, and empowerment… The novel’s provocative title says too little about this entertaining romantic caper which will satisfy fans and new readers alike.” ~Publishers Weekly

“Crusie’s great gift is her ability to make readers laugh at the inanities of life with her spunky women and strong yet compassionate men: imagine a combination of Nick Charles from The Thin Man and the women of The First Wives Club.” ~Booklist

“Crusie scores again with a hilarious romp through the lives of several headstrong women and the men who love (and sometimes hate) them. Crusie spices up her pages with some of the most intriguingly complex and quirky characters in fiction, then mixes in some murder and mayhem just for fun — the perfect recipe for a delightful read.” ~Barnes and Noble Review

“Crusie gives readers a little something extra in her exploration of the emotional stages of divorce, the viability of marriage, and the value of self-honesty– all of which add up to an excellent fictional tale layered with a thought-provoking look at contemporary culture.”

“Wise and witty… When a story leaves me feeling that I have learned something important about life and love, then I know that the book will be a keeper for me. Fast Women is a story about the resilience of the human spirit, a story about personal growth and the importance of self-knowledge… but most of all, Fast Women is a book that I sat down and read right through and then sat back down and read it again.” ~The Romance Reader

“With humor, irony and a whole lot of wit, Jennifer Crusie straps in her readers and takes them on a memorable ride. This is a master storyteller!” ~ Romantic Times

“When I grow up, I want to be a character in a Jennifer Crusie book. These are great women! Fabulous, mature, and intelligent, with insecurities and worries that only make them more real… Part of Crusie’s magic is her ability to make all of her characters important. You find yourself rooting for the supporting characters as much as the leads. It’s impossible not to become invested in all of them.” ~Romance Journal