Nebraska Center for Writers

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About Harley Jane Kozak


Dead Ex
Copyright © 2007
by Harley Jane Kozak
How to Buy

When television producer David Zetrakis is found dead with a gunshot wound to the head, LA greeting card artist Wollie Shelley is sad. When Wollie's best friend Joey — who once, like Wollie, dated the guy — is tried in the press for the murder and found guilty, Wollie is mad. And when Joey inherits a two-million dollar Klimt painting, making her the prime suspect in the eyes of the LAPD as well, Wollie does what anyone would do for her best friend: takes on killers, cops, and paparazzi, despite a lack of credentials, physical courage, or automatic weapons. — from the publisher

A Greek mythology twist and crackling insider insight into the fascinating soap opera world enhance this clever whodunit. — Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

It's been much too long since Wollie Shelley's last appearance. But now she's back, and her newest adventure is just as entertaining as her first two. ... Quirky characters with witty dialog and snappy comebacks make the writing sparkle. — Library Journal (Starred Review)

A page-turner of a mystery. A lovable sleuth. A real winner! — Janet Evanovich

Dead Ex is a wicked-smart, scalpel-sharp jewel of a book. Harley Jane Kozak brings an insider's eye to the denizen's lurking in Hollywood, and skewers them with laugh-out-loud results. I loved it! — Robert Crais

Harley Jane Kozak has a voice like no other. Dead Ex is sassy, pert, and a mile a minute page turner — filled with dry wit and a tongue and cheek look at Hollywood that could only be told through such an entertainer. Witty, unique, pure temptation and tons of fun. A seriously not to be missed book that stands all on its own. Fabulous! — Heather Graham, author of The Dead Room

Harley Jane Kozak's Dead Ex is a delightful romp through the world of daytime TV. It's fast, sexy and genuinely funny. If there's a more likeable heroine than hers — she composes greeting cards while she's not solving crimes! — I haven't found her yet. Don't miss this story. — T Jefferson Parker, author of Storm Runners

Dating is Murder
Copyright © 2005
by Harley Jane Kozak
How to Buy

Wollie Shelley is a greeting card artist struggling to keep afloat financially and to pursue — despite a series of recent disasters — the search for the love of her life. She reluctantly agrees to be a contestant on the reality television show Biological Clock. The show's premise: six eligible singles date each other, and the audience votes on which couple would make the best parents. Alas, Wollie isn't having much luck finding a man she'd like to date "off the air," much less father her child. As the biological clock ticks away, Wollie gets caught up in a much more pressing demand on her time. Her friend Annika has vanished into thin air and Wollie is convinced that she's in grave danger.
When Wollie reports the disappearance to the Los Angeles Police Department, however, the detective assigned to the case seems more interested in dating Wollie than in finding her friend. So Wollie springs into action — and lands right in the middle of an FBI investigation into an international drug cartel. She soon finds herself being stalked by an assortment of threatening characters, including her fellow television contestants, who will stop at nothing to beat the clock.
"Kozak has struck gold first time out with a wacky, high-octane plot and characters to match," Publishers Weekly declared in their enthusiastic review of Dating Dead Men. With Dating is Murder, Kozak delivers another sparkling treasure, a laugh-out-loud funny, literate mystery for readers of Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton, and for Kozak's own growing legion of fans. — from the publisher

As witty as early Evanovich and as irresistible as current Crusie, Kozak establishes her unique voice in Wollie's wistful, self-deprecating but stubborn working-class persona that fans of diva lit (chick lit that's grown up and added a body count) will love. The pace of this quirky cool mystery never falters, and the breezy characterizations will inspire more than a few to ask the author, "So, you gonna play Wollie in the film or what?" — Publishers Weekly

This delightful follow-up to Kozak's first outing surpasses its predecessor and will have readers anticipating Wollie's third adventure. — Booklist

Lively prose, seamless plotting-and, good golly, there's Wollie. — Kirkus Reviews

Kozak's writing is to die for. — Lincoln Journal Star

Dating Dead Men
Copyright © 2004
by Harley Jane Kozak
How to Buy

Los Angeles greeting-card artist and card-and-gift shop manager Wollie Shelley is dating forty men in sixty days as research for radio talk-show host and bestselling author Dr Cookie Lahven's upcoming book, How to Avoid Getting Dumped All the Time. Wollie is meeting plenty of eligible bachelors but not falling in love, not until she stumbles over a dead body en route to Rio Pescado — a state-run mental hospital — and is momentarily taken hostage by a charismatic "doctor" who is on the run from the Mob. Wollie fears that her beloved brother, a paranoid schizophrenic living at Rio Pescado, is involved in the murder, so rather than go to the authorities, she decides to solve the crime on her own. As she meets up with an array of small-time crooks and swaggering mobsters (many of whom are a lot more affable and only slightly more sinister than the men she's been dating), Wollie realizes that "getting dumped" is the least of her problems. Finding true love, she discovers, sometimes means learning how to avoid getting killed. ...
Dating Dead Men will keep readers guessing until the final bullet is shot — and cheering for the irresistible Wollie as she makes her way out of confusion and into the welcoming embrace of Mr Right. — from the publisher

Lot's of action, quirky characters, an engaging new sleuth who designs greeting cards, and a ferret named Margaret — what more could any reader want? Dating Dead Men is a superb debut.— Valerie Wolzien, author of A Fashionable Murder

Dating Dead Men, Harley Jane Kozak's hilarious debut novel, proves that the search for love can be as funny as it is deadly, as it ricochets from one madcap misadventure after another with the speed of a bullet and the uproarious fun of a three-ring circus. An absolutely delightful tale, told with warmth and charm. — Kris Neri, author of the Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Award-nominated Tracy Eaton mysteries

Dating Dead Men is the funniest mystery I've read in ages. Any woman who has ever wondered how many more Mr Wrongs she'll have to date to meet Mr Right will love this book. — Jan Burke, author of Nine

Dating Dead Men is a page-turning romp alive with fresh, quirky characters and inventive situations that left me anxious for another date with Wollie Shelley, provided author Harley Jane Kozak is amenable next time around to a man who's still breathing. — Robert S Levinson, author of Hot Paint and The John Lennon Affair

Harley Jane Kozak fashions a doozy of a debut, starring cars, cads, clothes, and an LA gone hilariously mad. — Mary Daheim, author of The Alpine Pursuit

Even Stephanie Plum's antics will seem sedate after readers make the acquaintance of Los Angeles's own Wollie Shelley, greeting card designer and small business owner. Wollie is dating 40 men in 60 days as part of a research project for a bestselling radio personality; the $5,000 fee could help her struggling store, "Wollie's Welcome! Greetings." In particular, Wollie's worried about inspections from national headquarters, who want to ensure that her franchise is up to standard. Her already full plate gets loaded up further when her paranoid schizophrenic brother, PB, who resides at a mental hospital called Rio Pescado, phones to tell her he's witnessed a murder. The last thing Wollie wants is to call the police, so she dashes off to Rio Pescado. On the way she finds a dead body. At the hospital she picks up a charismatic stranger, "Doc," who's on the run, and Wollie can't help getting herself mixed up in his troubles as well. Juggling dates, avoiding the bad guys on Doc's trail, trying to keep her store up to snuff and figuring out what to feed the ferret Doc left in her care have Wollie hopping at a pace reminiscent of the best 1930s screwball film comedies. Kozak has struck gold first time out with a wacky, high-octane plot and characters to match." Agent, Renee Zuckerbrot. — Publishers Weekly ("STARRED REVIEW")

All greeting card artist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wants to do is get the status of her franchise card shop upgraded, go out on dates, and take care of her institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic brother, PB. But life for Wollie isn't as simple as it appears. Corporate spies could appear at any moment. Her social life is dictated by a research project for a radio celebrity psychotherapist who's paying Wollie to date 40 men in 60 days. And her brother has called to tell her that there's been a murder at his mental hospital. To top it all off, Wollie has finally met the man of her dreams, but he's on the run from gangsters and the law, and may or may not be involved in a killing. There's never a dull moment in this rollicking caper, an exuberant, fun-filled roller-coaster ride worthy of Stephanie Plum. Kozak, a talented actress who's appeared in such films as Parenthood and When Harry Met Sally, will inevitably be compared favorably to Janet Evanovich — Kozak's humor, voice, and pacing is quite similar. This incredible debut novel is the first in a series of dating mysteries, and libraries of all sizes will want it for their collections. — Library Journal ("STARRED REVIEW")

Enterprising Wollstonecraft Shelley has to date 40 men in 60 days and somehow stay alive in this thoroughly engaging screwball debut mystery. The Dating Experiment is meant to be serious research in the interest of social science. How? Why? Don't ask. Suffice it to say that Wollie's date-rich research gets sidetracked when, en route to a mental hospital to visit her schizophrenic brother, she almost rams her VW into an inert object — a dead body with a bullet in its head. Wollie, the manager of a modest greeting-card business, is about to become the hostage of a darkly handsome man with a gun who turns out to be her type. She's not only embarrassed but amazed because "it had been so long since I'd been attracted to anyone. I was no longer sure I had a type." Additional corpses, furious car chases, an adorable pet ferret named Margaret owned by a sad-eyed little girl named Ruby, a MacGuffin stashed in a synagogue, assorted homicidal Mafiosi (two of them surprisingly Nordic), and love's labor lost and found often impede-but never quite foil-some fancy detective work by Wollie. Rejoice. Newcomer Wollie is funny, brave, smart, and altogether the fetchingest crime fiction heroine since the early Stephanie Plum. — Kirkus Reviews ("STARRED REVIEW")

Poor Wollie Shelley. She's desperately trying to make sure her card store, Wollie's Welcome, will stay in business. It figures her schizophrenic brother, PB, would call while the store inspector was visiting and claim he's witnessed a murder. Wollie drives to the hospital where PB is, and sure enough, she stumbles across a dead body. She also runs into a man disguised as a doctor, who uses her to help him escape from the hospital. Only after they've eluded hospital security does "Doc" mentions he's being pursued by the Mafia, although he won't say why. Wollie wants to help him, but his problems are starting to take over her life. She still has the store, and she's also participating in a dating program run by a radio personality, but it's hard for Wollie to focus on the men she's going out with when the Mafia is dogging her every move. Worse yet, she might actually be falling for Doc. Kozak's debut is a lively, funny romp for fans of lighthearted mysteries. — Booklist

[Kozak's] literary debut is warm, engaging and deeply funny — and offers more insight and depth than is found in just about any other chick lit offering out there today. — The Washington Post

Kozak ... demonstrates a flair for crisp dialogue and sly humor in a novel that's part chick lit, part mystery ... Kozak matches [her] endearing protagonist with effectively drawn minor players, including two sassy girlfriends and a ferret named Margaret. The clever plot incorporates twists and suspenseful moments ... Wollie's madcap exploits are a hoot. — USA Today

It's the rare writer who has either a sense of humor or a sense of suspense. Kozak ... has both — as she displays broadly in her debut novel. — Entertainment Weekly

...Kozak has done a bang-up job. ... In the fine tradition of Janet Evanovich and Stephanie Plum, Kozak and her creation pack a welcome laugh into a first-rate mystery plot. Brava! — The Chicago Sun-Times

Readers will not want this warm and witty story, with its perfect mix of zen and zaniness, to end. Luckily, Wollie's advntures will continue in Kozak's next book. — Romantic Times Magazine

Dating Dead Man, the debut mystery from ... Harley Jane Kozak is fast-paced, quirkily romantic, and most importantly, laugh-out-loud funny. — Elle Magazine

We like to avoid such words as "wacky" and "screwball," but this is the sort of book they were made for. It's also a funny and surprisingly entertaining debut. — The Arizona Republic Online

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