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Death on a Platter
Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper Series, No 7
Elaine Viets

November 2011/ 978-0-451-23524-4
Mystery/Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Josie Marcus doesn’t exactly have a dream job. She works for Suttin Services as a mystery shopper. Her boss, Harry the Horrible, takes pleasure in giving her the least desirable assignments. Her latest assignment is to visit some local restaurants and evaluate them for Travel America Guided Tours. It doesn’t sound like such a bad assignment until she finds out she has to taste local cuisine that includes pigs’ ears and cows’ brains.

The first restaurant she visits is owned by a friend of her mother’s. Tillie’s Off the Hill has a reputation for serving the best-toasted ravioli. It’s delicious and Josie is ready to write a rave review until the ravioli sauce hits the fan. A drunken customer named Clay demands that his sauce be made hotter, and Tillie, having had it up to her eye-balls with Clay spices it up but good. Too bad Clay drops on the floor after eating a little and later dies.

Tillie is arrested for murder, and Josie’s mother, Jane, demands that her daughter seek out the real killer so that the elderly Tillie can be freed. Josie never can quite say no to her mother so she agrees to try. After all she’s had some success solving murders in the past. With a little help from her friends, including boyfriend Ted the veterinarian, Josie closes in on the criminal. At least she thinks so, but as more facts come to light and another victim is killed, she isn’t sure if she’s on the right track or not.

I really enjoy this series. Josie is a strong woman, but flawed like the rest of us. She dotes on her daughter Amelia, and while she usually puts Amelia first, she does endanger her own life and risks leaving Amelia an orphan all too often. She can’t say no to her own mother, but in this book seems to be gaining a little bit of backbone in that regard. Josie is marriage and commitment shy, due to past experiences, but she sure seems to have a great guy in Ted. If only he’d propose…but then again, she flip-flops on what her answer would be whenever she thinks about it. What happens when –and if- he finally does?

This is a great new installment in this series, and anyone who has followed Josie Marcus’ adventures in previous books will devour it. The St. Louis food scene is well represented, the mystery clever and not easily deciphered, and the characters continue to grow and develop. There is romance, humor, a tween at the juncture of childhood and adolescence, dogs and cats, and restaurants! If that isn’t something for almost all mystery readers, I don’t know what it. Well done, Ms. Viets!

Reviewed 2011
© 2011