Murder with Reservations
A Dead-End Job Mystery
May 1, 2007
Trade Paperback/272 pages
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". . . slices open the seedy and charming underbelly of life in the minimum wage lanes . . ."
Helen Hawthorne just can’t avoid being in the thick of another murder.
After losing a few other jobs because of murder and mayhem, Helen Hawthorne settles in at Sybil’s Full Moon Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, an easy walking distance from her home at the Coronado apartments. Counting on the invisibility cloak of a hotel maid’s cleaning smock, Helen thinks she is safe from discovery but soon finds out she is wrong. A friend from St. Louis calls to tell Helen her ex-husband knows she is in South Florida, and he’s on his way to find her.
Five years ago, when Helen was a corporate star, she came home early one day to find her husband having sex with their next-door neighbor on the back deck. Shocked and angry, Helen picked up the first thing she could find – a crowbar – and went after her cheating man, destroying his precious and expensive SUV while he cowered naked inside. A judge declared Rob a house-husband and awarded him a huge settlement and alimony that Helen refused to pay. And that’s when she hit the road, changed her name, and lost herself in jobs that pay cash and keep her under the radar…
The work at the Full Moon is hard, but the pay and hours are good. Helen thinks she has finally found a job where she can settle in and get comfortable until Rhonda turned up dead in the dumpster behind the hotel. For three days, Helen and her coworkers believed Rhonda had run away with the dreamy rich boyfriend she had been dating. Once again, Helen is forced into the spotlight with Rob hot on her heels and nowhere to run. Between avoiding Rob, who checks into the Full Moon, finding out who murdered Rhonda, and where one hundred thousand dollars in illegal funds are hidden in the hotel, Helen has her hands full.
What begins with metaphors and similes as subtle as a John Henry’s sledgehammer finally settles into an enjoyable and often funny mystery with unforgettable characters and razor sharp wit in Murder with Reservations, Elaine Viets’ latest addition to the Dead-End Job mystery series. The pacing is rocky and stumbles often at the start, but once Viets lets go of the reins and gets out of the way, the characters charm, delight and work magic.
Helen is just this side of hard-boiled with a soft center. She provides a wonderful foil for hard-bitten, salty old broads like Sybil, who pinches pennies while directing operations from her smoke-filled office, and Margery, Helen’s cunning and worldly landlady at the Coronado. Murder with Reservations is rife with interesting and unusual characters and slices open the seedy and charming underbelly of life in the minimum wage lanes of South Florida. This latest book provides a quick and enchanting introduction to Viets’ brand of murder and mystery that is both addictive and fun.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell