Death, Taxes and Extra-Hold Hairspray
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Retail Price: 7.99
When you’re an agent for the IRS, it’s always tax time. And this season, Tara is up to her neck in work with two very knotty cases. One involves a charismatic minister who’s using his mega-church as a tax shelter. The other is a crazy militant who’s trying to turn Texas into a separate country. With her boyfriend out of town and her partner reassigned, Tara is on her own—and things are getting hairy.
If dealing with the Lone Star State isn’t enough, Tara has other new issues to take into account: There’s a sexy new agent named Nick, who’s got her head in the clouds...and Tara’s boss, Lu, who’s having a hair problem of epic proportions: not even her Chinese contraband industrial-strength hairspray is enough to keep her signature strawberry blonde beehive from falling flat. Can Tara help Lu find a wig—and keep from wigging out over Nick? Love, updos, taxes—this time, Tara’s got a whole lot of kinks to iron out…
For fans of: Janet Evanovich
Tara Holloway may be an agent with the IRS, but she’s about as far from a pencil-pushing desk jockey as a person can get; in the course of her employment with the Treasury Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, she’s helped bring down drug dealers, a loan shark, and a Ponzi scheme operator, not to mention earned herself a reputation as the “Annie Oakley of the IRS.” So when she learns her latest assignments simply require her to collect back taxes from an octogenarian chicken farmer and a televangelist, she figures she’s in for a walk in the park.
As it turns out, though, the chicken farmer served seven terms as president of a militant separatist group, the televangelist has the very best legal team his congregants’ money can buy, and both men have large armies of rabidly loyal supporters who seem determined to make Tara’s life a living hell. Tara always gets her tax cheat, but the unique circumstances surrounding these two cases make her wonder whether her perfect record’s about to take a fall. And between the angry protesters, the hate mail, and the death threats, it’s becoming quite clear that Tara’s career isn’t the only thing that’s on the line….
Death, Taxes, and Extra-Hold Hairspray is Diane Kelly’s third book to feature the ass-kicking, name-taking Tara Holloway. It isn’t really a mystery, nor is it a straight-up thriller, a romance, or a comedy; it is, however, a novel that contains elements of all four, and a damn good one at that. The pacing is quick and never once lags, not even for a second. The prose is smart and snappy and liberally sprinkled with moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity. The plot is intricate and entertaining. And I flat-out adore the fact that while the toothless, uneducated, anti-government, shoot-first-and-never-get-around-to-the-thinking-part Texan separatists should be the scary ones, it's the slimy, snake-oil-salesman of a minister that’s the real villain of the piece. The separatists, while a bit nutty, care deeply about their cause and are determined to take care of their own; the only things the televangelist truly cares about are his fame and the size of his bank account, and he doesn’t give a damn what happens to anybody else. It’s a thoughtful and incisive bit of social commentary – one I didn't expect to find when I cracked the cover of this novel – and it makes me appreciate Kelly’s writing all the more.
Like all the other books in this series, Death, Taxes, and Extra-Hold Hairspray features some wonderfully rich character development. Tara makes for a perfect heroine; winsome, funny, and full of attitude, her emotions, ambitions, and motivations are about as realistic and believable as those of a fictional character can get. The relationships she shares with the others in the book are remarkably nuanced, as well. The love quadrangle comprising Tara, her new partner Nick, her boyfriend Brett, and Brett’s friend Trish is fantastic stuff, and Kelly’s allowing it to develop in a very natural and organic manner. The chemistry that Tara shares with Nick is positively explosive, but she’s still quite fond of – and loyal to – Brett, making for some scenes that are at once heartbreaking and frustrating to witness. The actions and reactions of every party involved feel 100% genuine and 100% earned, making the tangling and untangling of this web one of the most compelling components of an already stellar plot.
Kelly’s minor characters are remarkably well drawn, as well. Trish is a driven and talented bimbo you'll love to hate. Minister Noah Fischer is creepy, slimy, and downright predatory, and you’ll be dying to see him take a fall from the moment he first sullies the page. Chicken-farming separatist August Buchmeyer and his cantankerous old wife Betty are hilarious, larger-than-life characters who can’t help but steal every scene in which they appear. And Tara’s polyester-wearing, beehive-sporting, hard-ass of a boss, Lu “the Lobo” Lobozinski, sidelined though she is by her lung cancer, is still a complete and total hoot and is responsible for some of the story’s more heartwarming moments.
If you’ve never read one of Diane Kelly’s Tara Holloway novels, I strongly recommend that you rectify the situation immediately. The series has gotten better with every single installment, and I’d be shocked if you didn’t see these characters gracing your television screen before too long (USA and HBO, I’m looking in your direction). Get on board now so you can say you knew Tara Holloway when.
Reviewed by Kat N.
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