Wednesday, November 5, 2008

MURDER WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS: A Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper Mystery
By Elaine Viets

Year-round Christmas stores are an interesting phenomenon of our time and their appeal is an enigma wrapped in tinsel for Josie Marcus. Three such holiday houses pop up within a two block radius and Josie is assigned to mystery shop two of them. One of them is an questionable "naughty" shop with unbelievably inappropriate, tacky merchandise. That's when all of the trouble begins.

Josie's job as a mystery shopper is much harder than it sounds and is made more difficult when she learns that the ex of her sexy plumber boyfriend, Mike, owns the "naughty" Christmas store. To make matters worse, she finds our Mike is an investor in the shop. Josie tells her deadbeat boss she has a conflict of interest mystery shopping the "naughty" store and he says do it anyway! A bad review from Josie turns into picketers and a loss of business.

To make the season even more jolly, Josie's ex-con, ex-boyfriend-but-never-her-husband turns up out of the blue to lay claim to their daughter. In the midst of all of this jocularity, Josie is faced with the preteen angst of her daughter and the teenage anger of her boyfriend's daughter. Murder is served up with holiday cheer and the season turns dark.

If you read this blog often, you know I enjoy Elaine Viets work. Her mystery shopper and dead end job novels are entertaining. She handles murder and mayhem with a humorous, entertaining touch. Her novels always provide me with an escape. What do you think.

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By Martha Powers

Clare Prentice thought she knew who she was until she learns that her entire life is a lie. Not only does she discover she is adopted, but there is no record that she or her adoptive mother ever existed. Clare begins a perilous journey of discovery with the only clue she has to her past, a class ring from Grand Rapids Senior High School.

Unraveling the mystery, is like trying to see through fog. Finally the first piece of the puzzle falls into place. Clare learns her birth mother was murdered. In a small town like Grand Rapids, the murder was a much talked-about event at the time it happened, but strangely enough no one is talking now. Clare sets out on her quest to find out the truth of what happened, but she doesn't realize there is someone out there who will stop at nothing to make sure she never finds out the whole story.

A chilling and inventive novel involving lies, deception, deadly secrets and danger. An excellent novel. What do you think?

"When you're writing, everything is so hard. And then you get a gift!"
---Martha Powers, from the interview with the Dallas Book Diva

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IMMUNITY: An Alexandra Blake Novel
By Lori Andrews

I know reviewers and movie trailers use the phrase "ripped out of today's headlines" way too much, but this novel has that feel about it. The reader feels as if he/she is seeing the story behind those words.

The DEA is investigating a new date rape drug called "J" that wreaks havoc on its victims. Castro Baxter and his partner Ted are on a mob stakeout when suddenly Ted literally drops dead in a horrible, inexplicable way. Baxter, believes there is more to his partner's untimely death then meets the eye and Dr. Alexandra Blake finds herself right in the middle of a medical mystery.

As Alex becomes more deeply involved in the investigation, she discovers other unexplained deaths that seem to indicate some kind of naturally occurring epidemic or a biological weapon. What's going on? Are the two investigations linked? What role does the head of a major pharmaceutical company have? Lives hang in the balance in this timely, tightly written thriller.

I carefully choose the books I post on this blog and this one is an excellent choice. What do you think?

CLUBBED TO DEATH: A Dead End Job Mystery
By Elaine Viets

Helen Hawthorne just can't seem to catch a break. After catching her husband, Rob, in "the act" with one of her neighbors, Helen beats up his SUV with a tire iron. Rather than viewing Helen as the injured party, the divorce judge rules that Helen must give Rob half of everything she has earned! Thus the journey begins for Helen. She runs away to Florida to hide in plain sight taking whatever dead end job she can find.

Helen's latest job is in the Customer Service area of a very high-end yacht club where the members are a cast of characters in themselves. Rob and his new bride, the infamous "Black Widow, sail their yacht into the club and right back into Helen's life. After having a public fight with her ex, he turns up missing and Helen is the number one suspect. There are surprises and plot twists galore in this entertaining mystery.

I confess I always enjoy Elaine Viets work. It's fun to read and provides such a "great escape." I also admire Elaine for working at every dead end job she writes about in her novels. What do you think?