Veronika Layne Has a Nose for News by Julia Park Tracey is the perfect book to read on a cozy fall day with a nice hot Chai. Just make sure you’re using oat milk instead of dairy, and if they don’t have that – hemp milk will do. The second novel in Tracey’s Hot off the Press series, Veronika Lane is a quick and fun read that has something very cool going for it: its protagonist. Veronika Lane is a cool chick, there’s no other way to spin it. A self-described “unicorn-loving rainbow warrior, an earth muffin, a bona fide muckraker”, Veronika is a tattooed, hippie journalist who makes her living writing about the goings-on in her rustic island town of San Pedro, California. And she won’t hesitate to let you know why dairy is a bad idea: “It takes 1,000 gallons of fresh water to produce a gallon of whole milk from a cow. It’s not a sustainable model.”
When she’s not converting her friends into hippies, she’s taking on the challenges of working for the local paper. Relegated to the Features section, Veronika spends her days looking for the real stories amongst the fluff her unimpressed boss insists on assigning her. When she gets sent to cover the Historical Advisory Committee for San Pedro (made up of “kooky nerds who worship old houses”), she stumbles upon a scoop no one could have predicted: the hunky host of a TV renovation show has set his sights on one of the local Victorian houses that San Pedro is famous for.
This isn’t your typical ‘boy meets girl’ story, though. First, Veronika is longing for her boyfriend who just moved 3,000 miles away. Second, this hunky host, Marco Carrillo, turns out to have more than just television ratings on his mind. When Carrillo begins snatching up local houses, all designed by the same historical bricklayer, Veronika senses that she may be onto something bigger than just an architecture story. And once some of those “kooky nerds who worship old houses” start trailing Veronika to warn her of the dangers Carrillo presents, it becomes even harder to ignore the mystery starting to build: “It’s him. He’s up to something. He’s at it again! You need to know… He’ll destroy the island!”
Tracey has written a book that is entertaining and will have you cheering for Veronika the whole way. At times, you might wish that Tracey took time to delve deeper into the plot – there were a few times I wished that the book were a little bit longer. But for a quick and fun read, Veronika Layne hits the mark. Despite having not read the first book in the series, Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop, I had no trouble getting to know the characters, or feeling at home in the story. The scenery of the island that Tracey writes about feels so homey and welcoming, you’ll want to move to San Pedro after reading just a few chapters. At the very least, you’ll want to read more about Veronika Layne and her nose for news.
And you won’t even mind being told to switch your daily coffee order. “No, no, no woman! It takes a gallon of water to produce a single almond, and do you know how many almonds California harvested this year? More than two billion pounds. Avoid almond milk. And soy milk – don’t even get me started”
In fact, Veronika is so charming that you’ll welcome the advice. Oat milk, here I come.
PS. Did you know Veronika has her very own cocktail? Get the recipe here.