Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper Series,
November 2011/ 978-0-451-23524-4
by Laura Hinds
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!