The Givenchy Code, by Julie Kenner
Story first! The other day I had to take my car to get smogged, and I took it to a place I hadn't used before. I took a book with me of course, but to my delight, the waiting room was piled with books! There were two or three skinny bookcases and a two-level coffee table, all covered with books and interesting magazines. The owner told me that it had started when he had brought in some of his old history books from college (which explained the gigantic military history tomes--he was a history major), and his wife had thrown in some mysteries and other things, and then people kept bringing in more...in fact, he had 3 big boxes of books in the back so they could change things up every so often. He said I could take whatever books I fancied with me and bring them back whenever I liked. I snagged a fun Aunt Dimity mystery that I've read before, but the real prize was when I saw The Givenchy Code, the first in a trilogy of which I'd only read the second volume.
So if you live in Chico, the Firestone on Cohasset and East is the place to be.
Now about Julie Kenner. She writes these clever, fluffy, fun books that I have enjoyed. Mostly I've read her Kate Connor novels, which answer the obvious question of what happens when Buffy the Vampire Slayer grows up, gets married, and becomes a soccer mom. (The first one is Carpe Demon, if you want to go looking for it.)
The Givenchy Code kicks off a different trilogy. Michelle lives in Manhattan and is a grad student in history and math, specializing in codes and cryptography. She shares a passion for fashion with her roommate Jennifer, and has been known to play online video games, like the smash hit Play.Survive.Win: a game based in a virtual Manhattan, in which players are assigned as Targets, Assassins, or Bodyguards. A series of clues leads the Target to the goal, but the Assassin might get to the Target first. Somebody has decided that it would be fun to play PSW for real, and Michelle finds herself assigned as a Target: either she plays and solves the clues, or she dies at the hands of a psycho. Together with her assigned bodyguard, Matthew Stryker, she is on the run--and the clues are frighteningly personal.
I had already read the second book, The Manolo Matrix, which features Jennifer (a singing waitress) as an assigned bodyguard to an ex-cop. Now I have the final book, The Prada Paradox, on request through ILL so I can find out who is running the game.