Nina Zero

Created by Robert Eversz

“I kicked him in the source of so much trouble in the world.”
Nina deals with it, in Digging James Dean

Mary Alice Baker is the good little blonde girl with a boring job photographing children at the mall. Her only rebellion is her ‘bad boy’ biker boyfriend, Wrex. He talks her into doing him a favor, and she ends up blowing up a terminal at LAX (ooops!) and taking her good girl days with it. Soon she’s on the run in her dark-haired, pierced persona of NINA ZERO and on the way to discovering who she really is – a journey we get to take along with her in five captivating novels by Robert Eversz. She knows she has to answer for the bombing at the airport, but is determined to learn why it happened and who was behind it all before the police catch up with her. But how to begin?

“I drove away, wondered how detectives found out these things. I didn’t know if there was some special school told them what to do, or maybe it was all job experience. I didn’t have any experience. Didn’t know what to do next.”

Turns Nina is much more resourceful than Mary Alice, though, and applies some common sense to the problem. She needs to learn how to investigate and she needs to get a new job, so she combines two problems into one solution and searches for work as a P.I.:

“I started with Pinkerton’s, where an operative who looked more like an accountant told me I needed a license to work for them unless it was secretarial, and I didn’t look much like Pinkerton material anyway. Ace and Eagle Security and Nolan’s Investigations, they all said pretty much the same thing. If I didn’t have any experience, I had to go to detective school and get a certificate.”

Undeterred by their responses, and unable to wait she is finally referred to the detective agency of last resort run by partners Ben & Jerry. Ben is not sure why she wants to be a P.I. so he gives her the reality check pep talk:

“It’s about as exciting as watching dust settle on a windowsill, nobody’s tried to hit me in twenty years, and I’m afraid to remember the last time I got laid without paying for it.”

Nina gets the job and learns a few things, but does it make her a professional investigator? Not according to her. Although she worked for a couple of P.I.s in Shooting Elvis (1996), she makes no claim of expertise, describing her investigative style in Killing Paparazzi (2002) like this:

“I wasn’t a professional investigator or even a talented amateur. My greatest asset was desperation.”

She muddles through, growing into her Nina Zero persona in each of the first three books in this series, dealing with her family problems, legal problems and identity problems in sips and gulps along the way. Nina’s voice is loud, unique and right on the money. Eversz has taken a larger than life situation and populated it with a fully formed, multifaceted human character. The supporting cast in each of the books is vivid and interesting, often leaving you wishing they had larger roles in the narrative.

Robert Eversz is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz and a UCLA film school dropout.He’s lived in Prague, he’s been on the Executive Council of the International Association of Crime Writers and he’s served as a director of the Prague Summer Writers’ Workshop, and has recently returned stateside. He also wrote two books about private eye team of Paul Marston and Angel Cantini.


  • “Opera is the only place in the world where the hero is a fat guy who gets the girl in the end. Maybe he gets shot, stabbed or hacked to bits, but at least he gets laid.”
    — Ben on why he likes opera
  • “But that’s L.A. From any point in the city it’s always five minutes to the other side of the world.”
    — Nina on L.A.


  • “(Nina Zero) comes across as the pissed-off, trouble-prone bastard love child of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Joan Jett. Or is it Chrissie Hynde? Or, maybe, Courtney Love? Well, whoever her mother is, Nina can probably kick your ass. At least verbally — Nina’s spot-on take on modern life, Southern California style, ties everything together… Her twisted but unflinching observations, as well as her quips about everything from the nuts-and-bolts of the dehumanizing L.A. jail system to the chimera of fame and ego in Hollywood, echo long after you’ve put this book down… If Marlowe really was her dad, he’d be proud as hell.”
    — Kevin Burton Smith on Burning Garbo (January Magazine)
  • “Zero’s is such a sad, funny, companionable voice, and Eversz’s L.A. is a noir-lover’s neon dream.”
    — Washington Post Book World
  • “Hmmmm…  Nina could be Lisbeth Salander’s mother.”
    — Duke Seabrook


Report respectfully perpetrated by Dale Stoyer, with some additional snarkiness by Kevin Burton Smith.

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