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Literature / The Heather Wells Mysteries

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A series of Meg Cabot books about Heather Wells, a former child Idol Singer, whose label dropped her. She now works at a university as a dorm administrator. In every book, someone ends up dead, and Heather investigates while dealing with her crazy co-workers, annoying, cheating ex-boyfriend (also a famous pop star) a police officer who believes she's nothing but trouble, and her huge crush on her roommate/landlord/former flame's brother.
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So far the series consists of five titles:

  • Size Twelve Is Not Fat
  • Size 14 Is Not Fat Either
  • Big Boned (also published as Size Doesn't Matter)
  • Size 12 and Ready to Rock
  • The Bride Wore Size 12


Tropes in The Heather Wells Mysteries include:

  • Above the Influence: In Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, Heather confronts Cooper about why he's been refusing her romantic gestures. Cooper admits several things: one is that Heather is on the rebound from dating his brother, and two is that he's essentially her landlord. He doesn't want to make a move on her while he has power over her from a broken heart. Heather is forced to admit he's right, though he changes his mind after she dates Tad Tocco for a few months, realizing she's no longer on the rebound.
  • Always Murder: Though in The Bride Wore Size 12 the MLI Eva for the district only realizes it was such after examining Jasmine's body and finds signs that she was smothered.
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  • The Alcoholic: Mrs. Cartwright and her daughter Jessica, as shown in Size 12 and Ready to Rock. Mrs. Allington is another example from Size 12 Is Not Fat.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Heather Wells, obviously, though she will get her degree in criminal justice. Cooper is a professional.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Used with some frequency in the books
    Jordan: Dead girls and condoms and drug dealers. And you smoke now. What kind of life is this, Heather? What kind of life?
  • Armored Closet Gay: Red Herring Coach Steve Andrews
  • Ascended Extra: Gavin McGoren appears in Size 12 Is Not Fat when Heather chases him down for elevator surfing. He has a more significant role in Size 14 Is Not Fat Either and most of the other books.
  • The Atoner: Heather's father is one after being released from prison, though his redemption path is Played for Laughs. Tania Trace becomes one in Size 12 and Ready to Rock after moving her summer camp for girls to Fischer Hall and hiring Cooper as her new bodyguard.
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  • Brainless Beauty: Jordan Cartwright.
  • Big Eater: Heather and Cooper. Cooper keeps his weight down by playing basketball, however.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Heather, at least for Gavin, Cooper and Tad.
  • Black Sheep: Cooper Cartwright, after he refused to join Easy Street with his brother and sign with Cartwright Records, instead becoming a private detective.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Stephanie tells Heather in Size 12 And Ready To Rock that the competition won't really be one, because Cartwright Records is planning to sign up Cassidy Upton and get the drama on-camera for Jordan Loves Tania. Obviously, the girls don't know that so their reactions will be genuine. During the night of the Rock-Off, Cassidy checks out a paintball gun from the rec room and uses it to shoot the other girls to ruin their clothes. This is despite the fact that she has a professional stylist and makeup artist and talent. The ensuing distraction means that Gary Hall sneaks in to ambush Heather and Tania, trying to kidnap the latter at gunpoint, and Cooper gets there just in time to shoot the guy. This leads to the Rock-off getting canceled due to a real death happening, and none of the girls win. Stephanie in a moment of Everyone Has Standards, tells off Mrs. Upton and says no one at Cartwright Records would want to work with Cassidy because she is a Spoiled Brat and a "bitch" when the Uptons complain they didn't get a fair chance to compete.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Detective Canavan knows in The Bride Wore Size 12 that Heather fired a gun to save Kayleigh from Howard Chen, but he has no proof. And in all honesty, he's impressed at the shot since no one suffered serious injuries. While grousing at Heather for making the investigation harder and sticking with plausible deniability, he tells her to wash her hands with hard soap, not antibacterial, to get out the residue from gunpowder.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Heather in Size 14 Is Not Fat Either has done the police a big service by helping them bust a campus drug ring. Her boss gets promoted to a better hall, and she gets a Dove candy bar.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted, for any character who has crossed Heather unless they work to earn her trust back.
    • Tania Trace takes a while to get on Heather's good side, and that's after apologizing for stealing Jordan and revealing a history of Domestic Abuse that drove her to seduce Jordan from Heather and ruin the former's romantic life. They manage to bond, and Tania even hires a cleaning service for the brownstone apartment, which Heather has always wanted.
    • Chris Allington never earns Heather's trust back, not that he cares, because he doesn't apologize for seducing freshmen virgins after dumping Rachel and tends to engage in irresponsible behavior.
    • Where to start with Heather's mom, Janet Wells? Heather calls her a Manipulative Bitch and a Stage Mom that left Heather when the latter's record deal got cancelled, taking all the money from Heather's savings. She also only returns to the States when the statute of limitation on her embezzlement expires, her boyfriend, Heather's former stage manager, apparently gets angry and starts stalking her and Janet thinks she can move in with Heather and Cooper. Heather and Cooper don't agree to let bygones be bygones, and tell her to Get Out!. Eventually, Janet realizes that she can't mend her relationship with Heather and apologizes after Cooper protects her from her ex-boyfriend, leaving Heather with a gift of several dozen bracelets that turn out to be $250,000 worth of platinum, which pays back some of the money she stole from Heather.
    • Stephanie Brewer, the stage producer, gains a bit more sympathy when having to deal with the teenage campers in Size 12 and Ready to Rock, after insulting Heather and forcing Tania Trace to stay on camera while fainting. That said, she and Heather never become friends.
    • Nicole Cartwright is the only exception, because she actually is sorry for the drama that ensued for inviting Heather's mother to the wedding, and Heather doesn't want to alienate any of Cooper's family.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Jordan is a sleazy cheater and The Millstone, but even he has the sense to feel guilty when realizing a letter that is supposedly from Tania's ex-husband was real and not from a crank, since the man shoots Tania's bodyguard, poisons a producer, and chokes a little girl.
    • The girls in Size 12 And Ready to Rock are catty and competitive, complete with tearing each other down. Most of them, sans Cassidy, are actually sympathetic when Bridget has to leave due to Tania's ex-husband torturing her via voice lessons and convincing her that it will make her win the competition.
  • Former Child Star: Heather, though unlike other examples of the trope she actually has no long-lasting problems apart from Parental Abandonment and financial losses.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Happens with Cooper. Although they don't always correct the error.
  • Hidden Depths: Tania Trace. When we first hear about her, she's just the pop superstar who Heather caught in flagrante with Jordan. In the fourth book, she reveals a surpisingly sweet nature, an abusive ex-husband she's trying to avoid, and shows that she and Jordan really do care about each other and their unborn child.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: In Size 12 and Ready to Rock, Cassidy ambushes her competition with a paintball gun before they're due to perform onstage. This distraction allows Gary Hall to nearly kidnap Tania, and the Rock-Off is subsequently cancelled due to Cooper shooting Gary. Safe to say, if Cassidy had just competed fairly, she would have won.
  • Honor Before Reason: Subverted. In The Bride Wore Size 12, Gavin at first refuses to fess up about his fellow R As attending a party that served alcohol to underage hall residents and involved Jasmine's death because "he's no narc". Heather has to remind him that he could lose his job or have to talk with the police, and explain that he isn't in trouble otherwise because he didn't go to the party and manned the desk to complete his work hours.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's a residence hall, not a dorm. Calling it a dorm does not foster the comforting, friendly atmosphere the college wants to express.
  • I Have Your Wife: I Have Your Hall Resident: Gavin in Size 14 Is Not Fat Either.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Heather and Cooper, Heather because of her record deal going sour and being abandoned by every adult possible, including Grant Cartwright. Cooper is this way because of his family, and also because of his job.
  • Jerkass Realization: Tania has always been standoffish to Heather, who feels the same way since she caught the former sleeping with Jordan. Then in Size 12 and Ready to Rock, she insists on having the rock camp where she's the star at Heather's dorms when the latter helps her out during a medical emergency. Tania doesn't understand why Heather would be nice to her after their bad history. She then breaks down in Tears of Remorse when Heather confronts her for stealing Jordan from her, and asking for information on who could potentially be trying to kill her. Tania apologizes for the affair and her bad attitude towards Heather.
  • Karma Houdini: A few examples come to mind.
    • Cooper Cartwright's father, Grant Cartwright, for making Heather destitute, and for laughing at her written songs pays nothing for his cruelty, financially or emotionally. He even gets invited to her wedding, as a familial obligation. Heather has to grit her teeth and bear it.
    • Chris Allington, for seducing female virgins and not speaking up when he suspects who might be killing them. Though Cooper threatens to reveal his past relationships with virgin freshmen if Chris and Stephanie spill the beans to Jordan about Cooper's upcoming marriage to Heather.
  • Kick the Dog: Pretty much the book premise. Heather, after gaining too much weight and nearing thirty, loses her record deal after asking the Cartwright CEO if she could write her own songs. Then her singer boyfriend cheats on her with Tania Trace and dumps her, and her mother runs off with all her money to Argentina. The book starts after she has gotten a job at a residence hall.
  • Late Coming Out: Heather lives in Cooper's brownstone, which he inherited from his grandfather after he was the only family member to be supportive after the grandfather came out as an old man.
  • Mama Bear: Several characters lampshade that Heather is protective of her students, including those that are younger or more naive. She will often be the first to offer them work-study programs in exchange for free room and board if they can't return home, run to their rescue if they're being held hostage, and hear them out about their problems.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Cooper Cartwright's father, Grant Cartwright, since he is a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Heather's mother is said to have been one.
  • My God, You Are Serious!: Heather, Tom Snelling, and Coach Andrews's reaction to Cooper being offered a job as Tania Trace's bodyguard in Size 12 and Ready to Rock.
  • Mystery Magnet: Heather again. Enough of a magnet to concern Cooper.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Jordan Cartwright, Heather's ex from boy band Easy Street, bears a certain resemblance to Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys. With a little Justin Timberlake thrown in.
    • Heather was based on Britney Spears, minus the drug abuse and alcohol rehab stints.
  • Overly Long Gag: In Big Boned, Heather wonders if her uterus got loose or fell out during her brief jog that morning. And then proceeds to call attention to it throughout the course of the entire book. Ignoring the fact that an organ can't fall out of the body, it was not the funniest of ideas to begin with.
  • Parental Abandonment: Heather's mom took off with her manager and all Heather's money to Argentina. Her dad's in jail, though he appears in three books.
  • Private Detective: Cooper Cartwright is one of these.
  • Rescue Romance: What Cooper's sisters believe that Cooper did for Heather, by giving her a home with free rent in exchange for accounting after she lost her record deal and her boyfriend Jordan.
  • Shipper on Deck: EVERY character after Heather and Cooper get engaged, except for Gavin and Jordan.
  • Starbucks Skin Scale: Tania Trace is described as having "cappucino" skin.
  • Sue Donym:
    • In Size 14... Heather Snelling
      Size 4 Girl: Ohmigod, she DOES look like Heather Wells!
      Heather: Yeah, I get that a lot. Since my name is Heather. And I look like Heather Wells.
    • Also Grant Cartwright does this to hire Cooper, by having his secretary call on behalf of a "Mr. Grant." Cooper is annoyed at having fallen for it.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A few examples come to mind.
    • Apparently not all information is available on the Internet, including marriage records. Sometimes Cooper has to bribe a district attorney to get access to them. As he tells Heather, TV gets the facts wrong.
    • Cooper about police facial recognition technology, explaining why it doesn't work the way it does on television in Size 12 and Ready to Rock.
    • As Tania admits to Heather in Size 12 And Ready to Rock, that Heather is happy with Cooper now doesn't excuse the fact that Tania helped Jordan cheat on Heather. Heather herself admits that while she realizes she ought to have dumped Jordan ages ago, it still hurt a lot at the time that she lost her boyfriend, career, and faith in fundamental goodness all in one swoop. Being The Mistress in an affair is a terrible thing to do, and Tania had no excuse even if trying to escape an abusive husband.
    • Contrary to what Nicole Cartwright believes in The Bride Wore Size 12, inviting an estranged and manipulative mother to her daughter's wedding will not result in a happy reunion between the two if said mother stole her daughter's money and left her to rot.
  • Teacher/Student Romance:
    • Tad Tocco, algebra professor, for Heather. Also Gary Hall for Tania Trace.
    • Gavin for Heather. He then finds a younger version of her named Jamie.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: As Heather puts it, her mother stealing all her money wasn't just wrong in the sense of Financial Abuse and leaving her only daughter to rot. It was that she left Heather without a future, and broke her belief that life was fair because her own mother cared more about a paycheck than about caring for their child. Cooper notes that they didn't invite Janet to the wedding for this reason, and yells at his sister for inviting her behind their backs. Even at the end when Janet apologizes and gives back part of the money in platinum jewelry as an apology, Heather doesn't want the lady in her life anymore.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Heather in all spades. From getting held hostage in Size 12 Is Not Fat to earning the police's respect and shooting Howard Chen in the hand to save a freshman hostage.
  • Tranquil Fury: Heather every time someone calls her "fat" or undermines her authority. It's one of her greatest strengths.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: Heather's mom Janet has a minor example, when she realizes that abandoning her daughter lead to Heather becoming jaded, mistrustful of others and having to work in a residence hall. Subverted when Heather asserts that she likes the new life she has, and that she doesn't know why her mom wants to mess it up again.

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