Signet, May 2003, 5.99, 288 pp.
After hearing the judge's ruling in a St. Louis Courtroom, Helen Hawthorne goes on the run, leaving a job that pays six figures annum and her family and friends behind. She ends up in Fort Lauderdale working in sales in the exclusive female clothes store Juliana's, earning minimum wage off the books. The clientele consists of trophy wives and men's mistresses who have nothing better to do than shop until they drop. After two weeks on the job, Helen comes to believe that her boss is skimming money, selling illegal drugs, arranging for illegal plastic surgery and hiring a hit man for a customer.
Before Helen can decide what to do about what she thinks is going on, Christina takes off on a vacation and never comes back. Her body is found in a barrel floating in the ocean and Helen soon has proof that her former boss was blackmailing five customers and her ex-boyfriend. When Helen tries to solve the crime and collect the reward money, the killer decides to make Helen the second victim.
The first Dead-End Jobs mystery is such a smashing success it will provide long-term job security for Elaine Viets. The tale contains wit, local color and a cast of secondary characters that is eccentric and funny. The heroine is a delightful mix of grit; determination and stubbornness, which is why she goes from one deadly encounter to another. She doesn't know the meaning of the word quit and she hounds all the suspects until one of them finally makes a move on her. Elaine Viets' SHOP TILL YOU DROP is electrifying.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner