Many writers have tried to duplicate Janet Evanovich's best-selling formula for mysteries featuring eccentric characters caught up in dangerous, but amusing circumstances. Nearly all of them have failed, but a few talented writers have followed in her footsteps, not as imitators but as gifted writers in their own right. Harley Jane Kozak is one of them.
A Date You Can't Refuse is the fourth book to feature the lovable, if hapless Wollie Shelley, a prolific dater and greeting card designer. Wollie's been involved in some twisted plots up till now, but this time out Kozak really throws her to the wolves, sending her undercover in the home of a Russian gangster.
Kozak has a gift for creating characters that you care about and placing them in interesting situations. Her books might not exactly be realistic -- OK, they're pretty outlandish -- but they sure are a lot of fun to read.
From the Chicago Sun-Times, March 29, 2009